Prevalence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children with Down Syndrome

Sleep. 2016 Mar 1;39(3):699-704. doi: 10.5665/sleep.5554.


Study objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in a large cohort of children with Down syndrome (DS), and to investigate which patient- related factors correlate with disease severity.

Methods: We performed a retrospective, cross-sectional study in children with DS referred for full overnight polysomnography in a tertiary care center.

Results: Polysomnographic data are available for 122 children (70 boys), age 5.0 y (2.8-10.5), and body mass index (BMI) z-score 0.7 (-0.3 to 1.7). The overall prevalence of OSA was 66.4%. In almost half of these children severe OSA was diagnosed (obstructive AHI [oAHI] ≥ 10/h). In children with parental reports of snoring or witnessed apneas (group A), OSA was significantly more common (75.7%) than in those without these symptoms (group B) 53.8% (P = 0.019). Children in group A had more severe OSA, oAHI 5.7/h (1.7-13.8) compared to those in group B 2.2/h (0.8-8.0) (P = 0.018). A significant inverse correlation between age and oAHI (P = 0.028) was found. Sex and BMI z-score were not significantly correlated to oAHI.

Conclusions: Based upon full night polysomnography, an overall 66.4% prevalence of OSA was found in children with Down syndrome. Even in those with a negative history for OSA, the prevalence was 53.8%. Younger age was associated with more severe disease.

Keywords: Down syndrome; obstructive sleep apnea; polysomnography.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Snoring / complications