Long-Term Improvements in Sleep and Respiratory Parameters in Preschool Children Following Treatment of Sleep Disordered Breathing

J Clin Sleep Med. 2015 Oct 15;11(10):1143-51. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.5088.


Study objective: Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in preschool-aged children is common, but long-term outcomes have not been investigated. We aimed to compare sleep and respiratory parameters in preschool children to examine the effects of treatment or non-treatment after 3 years.

Methods: Children (3-5 years) diagnosed with SDB (n = 45) and non-snoring controls (n = 30) returned for repeat overnight polysomnography (39% of original cohort), 3 years following baseline polysomnography. Children with SDB were grouped according to whether they had received treatment or not. SDB resolution was defined as an obstructive apnea hypopnea index (OAHI) ≤ 1 event/h, no snoring detected on polysomnography and habitual snoring not indicated by parents on questionnaire.

Results: Fifty-one percent (n = 23) of the children with SDB were treated. Overall, SDB resolved in 49% (n = 22), either spontaneously (n = 8) or with treatment (n = 14). SDB remained unresolved in 39% (n = 9) of those treated and 64% (n = 14) of the children who were untreated. Two of the non-snoring controls developed SDB at follow-up. The treated group had significantly lower OAHI (p < 0.01), respiratory disturbance index (p < 0.001), total arousal and respiratory arousal indices (p < 0.01 for both) at follow-up compared with baseline. There were no differences between studies for the untreated group.

Conclusions: Although treatment resulted in an improvement in indices related to SDB severity, 39% had SDB 3 years following diagnosis. These findings highlight that parents should be made aware of the possibility that SDB may persist or recur several years after treatment. This is relevant regardless of the severity of SDB at baseline and the treatment given.

Keywords: adenotonsillectomy; obstructive sleep apnea; pediatric; polysomnography; respiratory; sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polysomnography / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiration*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Treatment Outcome