Central sleep apnea in children: experience at a single center

Sleep Med. 2016 Sep:25:24-28. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


Objective: Central sleep apnea (CSA) syndromes are rare in children and data in children over one year of age are scarce. The aim of the study was to describe the sleep characteristics, underlying disorders, management, and outcome of children with CSA.

Patients/methods: A retrospective chart review of all children >1 year of age, diagnosed with CSA on a laboratory sleep study during a 20-month period, was performed. CSA was defined by a central apnea index (CAI) >5 events/h. The clinical management and the patient's outcome were analyzed.

Results: Eighteen of 441 (4.1%) patients recorded during the study period had CSA. The median CAI, pulse oximetry, and oxygen desaturation index were 13/h (range 6-146), 96% (93-98%), and 18/h (6-98), respectively. Neurosurgical pathologies represented the most common underlying disorders with Arnold-Chiari malformation in four and ganglioglioma in three patients. Other underlying disorders were Prader-Willi syndrome (N = 3), achondroplasia (N = 2), and Down syndrome, with one patient having an achondroplasia and a Down syndrome. The remaining six patients had other genetic diseases. The most common investigation was brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Individualized management with neurosurgery and/or chemotherapy, continuous positive airway pressure (in two patients having associated obstructive events), or noninvasive ventilation resulted in an improvement in CSA and the clinical presentation in 11 patients.

Conclusion: CSA is rare in children >1 year of age. Underlying disorders are dominated by neurosurgical disorders. Individualized management is able to improve CSA and the clinical condition in most patients.

Keywords: Arnold–Chiari malformation; Brain tumor; Central apnea; Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging; Child; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achondroplasia / complications
  • Achondroplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Adolescent
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / complications
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / diagnostic imaging
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Down Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Ganglioglioma / complications
  • Ganglioglioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Ganglioglioma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Polysomnography
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / complications
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Rare Diseases
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / therapy*