Obstructive sleep apnea, seizures, and childhood apraxia of speech

Pediatr Neurol. 2008 Jun;38(6):422-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2008.03.002.


Associations between obstructive sleep apnea and motor speech disorders in adults have been suggested, though little has been written about possible effects of sleep apnea on speech acquisition in children with motor speech disorders. This report details the medical and speech history of a nonverbal child with seizures and severe apraxia of speech. For 6 years, he made no functional gains in speech production, despite intensive speech therapy. After tonsillectomy for obstructive sleep apnea at age 6 years, he experienced a reduction in seizures and rapid growth in speech production. The findings support a relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and childhood apraxia of speech. The rather late diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, especially in light of what was such a life-altering outcome (gaining functional speech), has significant implications. Most speech sounds develop during ages 2-5 years, which is also the peak time of occurrence of adenotonsillar hypertrophy and childhood obstructive sleep apnea. Hence it is important to establish definitive diagnoses, and to consider early and more aggressive treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, in children with motor speech disorders.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Seizures / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Speech / physiology
  • Speech Disorders / complications*
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Vocabulary