Rationale: Large neck circumference (NC) is associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults, especially males. Since NC changes with age and sex, a lack of reference ranges makes neck size difficult to assess as a screening tool in children.
Methods: Using a population-based dataset of 1,913 children, we developed reference ranges for NC by age and sex for children aged 6-17 years. In this study, we collected NC data on 245 children aged 6-17 years presenting to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario for polysomnography. The association between NC>the 95th percentile and OSA (total apnea-hypopnea-index>5 events/hr and/or obstructive-apnea-index ≥ 1 event/hr) was explored. Thresholds of BMI percentile and waist circumference were also examined.
Results: Individuals with NC>95th percentile for age and sex had increased risk of OSA (relative risk 1.7 [95% CI 1.0-3.0], P=0.04), compared to those with NC ≤ 95th percentile. BMI ≥ 95th percentile gave similar results (relative risk 1.8 [95% CI 1.1-2.9], P=0.02). When examined by sex, the association was significant in males ≥ 12 years (relative risk 3.3 [95% CI 1.0-10.4], P=0.04), but not females (P=0.63). Neither BMI ≥ 95th percentile nor waist circumference>95th percentile was significant.
Conclusions: Children and youth with NC>95th percentile for age and sex have significantly increased risk of OSA. This effect is significant in males ≥ 12 years, whereas BMI is not. NC percentile may be an additional screening tool for OSA in children and youth.
Keywords: neck circumference; obstructive sleep apnea; pediatric; percentiles; predictor.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.