Obstructive sleep apnea in poorly controlled asthmatic children: effect of adenotonsillectomy

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2011 Sep;46(9):913-8. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21451. Epub 2011 Apr 4.


Background: Asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children share multiple epidemiological risk factors and the prevalence of snoring is higher in asthmatic children, suggesting that the latter may be at increased risk for OSA. Since both asthma and OSA are inflammatory disorders, we hypothesized that polysomnographically demonstrated OSA would be more frequent among poorly controlled asthmatics (PCA), and that treatment of OSA, if present, would ameliorate the frequency of acute asthmatic exacerbations (AAE).

Methods: Children with PCA were referred for an overnight sleep study, and adenotonsillectomy (tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, T&A) was performed if OSA was present. Frequency of asthma symptoms and exacerbations were compared.

Results: Ninety-two PCA children, ages 3-10 years, with a mean frequency of AAE of 3.4 ± 0.4/year were prospectively referred for a sleep study. OSA (i.e., AHI > 5/hrTST) was present in 58 patients (63.0%; OR: 40.9, 12.9-144.1, P < 0.000001 compared to the prevalence of OSA in a non-asthmatic population). Information at 1-year follow-up was available for 35 PCA children after T&A. The annual frequency of AAE, rescue inhaled use, and asthma symptoms in this sub-group decreased compared to no changes in the group without OSA.

Conclusions: The prevalence of OSA is markedly increased among PCA children and treatment of OSA appears to be associated with substantial improvements in the severity of the underlying asthmatic condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Snoring / epidemiology
  • Snoring / surgery
  • Tonsillectomy*
  • Treatment Outcome