Objective: To determine the prevalence and risk factors of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) in Chinese children using a two-phase community-based study design.
Methods: Children from 13 primary schools were randomly recruited. A validated OSAS screening questionnaire was completed by their parents. Children at high risk of OSAS and a randomly chosen low-risk group were invited to undergo overnight polysomnographic study and clinical examination. The the sex-specific prevalence rate was measured using different cutoffs (obstructive apnoea hypopnoea index ≥ 1, ≥ 1.5, ≥ 3 and ≥ 5 and obstructive apnoea index ≥ 5) and risk factors associated with OSAS were evaluated with logistic regression.
Results: 6447 completed questionnaires were returned (out of 9172 questionnaires; 70.3%). 586 children (9.1%; 405 boys and 181 girls) children belonged to the high-risk group. A total of 619 (410 and 209 from the high and low-risk group, respectively) subjects underwent overnight polysomnagraphy. Depending on the cutoffs, the prevalence rate of childhood OSAS varied from 4.8% to 40.3%. Using the International Criteria of Sleep Disorders version II, the OSAS prevalence for boys and girls was 5.8% and 3.8%, respectively. Male gender, body mass index z-score and increased adenoid and tonsil size were independently associated with OSAS.
Conclusions: The prevalence rate of OSAS in children was contingent on the cutoff used. The inclusion of symptoms as a part of the diagnostic criteria greatly reduced the prevalence. A further prospective and outcome study is needed to define a clinically significant diagnostic cutoff for childhood OSAS.