Background: Reports in adults and children have correlated history of wheezing or asthma with the presence of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing but the mechanism of this epidemiologic association is unknown. The goal of the present study was to examine whether tonsillar hypertophy can explain this association.
Methods: Children were recruited from the Emergency Department and the Pediatric Pulmonology Clinic. History of wheezing requiring treatment (explanatory variable) and snoring > or = 1 night/week (outcome) were recorded and presence of tonsillar hypertrophy (outcome) was assessed.
Results: Four hundred forty-two children were recruited (mean age: 7.6 + or - 3.6 years) and 210 of them had history of wheezing. History of wheezing was significantly associated with the presence of tonsillar hypertrophy and snoring even after adjustment for age, gender, obesity, and passive smoking [odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 2.23 (1.37-3.63); P = 0.001 and 1.73 (1.12-2.67); P = 0.013, respectively]. When only children with tonsillar hypertrophy were considered (n = 92), history of wheezing was significantly related to the presence of snoring, whereas in subjects without tonsillar hypertrophy (n = 350) wheezing did not affect snoring [odds ratio: 2.76 (1.10-6.93); P = 0.031 and 1.49 (0.92-2.43); P = 0.107, respectively].
Conclusions: Children with history of wheezing have more frequently tonsillar hypertrophy than those without wheezing. Tonsillar hypertrophy may mediate at least in part the reported association between asthma and obstructive sleep-disordered breathing in childhood.