Cyclic alternating pattern in children with obstructive sleep apnea and its relationship with adenotonsillectomy, behavior, cognition, and quality of life

Sleep. 2021 Jan 21;44(1):zsaa145. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa145.


Study objectives: To determine in children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) the effect of adenotonsillectomy (AT) on the cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) and the relationship between CAP and behavioral, cognitive, and quality-of-life measures.

Methods: CAP parameters were analyzed in 365 overnight polysomnographic recordings of children with mild-to-moderate OSA enrolled in the Childhood Adenotonsillectomy Trial (CHAT), randomized to either early AT (eAT) or watchful waiting with supportive care (WWSC). We also analyzed CAP in a subgroup of 72 children with moderate OSA (apnea-hypopnea index > 10) that were part of the CHAT sample. Causal mediation analysis was performed to determine the independent effect of changes in CAP on selected outcome measures.

Results: At baseline, a higher number of A1 phases per hour of sleep was significantly associated with worse behavioral functioning (caregiver Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) Global Executive Composite (GEC): ρ = 0.24, p = 0.042; caregiver Conners' Rating Scale Global Index: ρ = 0.25, p = 0.036) and lower quality of life (OSA-18: ρ = 0.27, p = 0.022; PedsQL: ρ = -0.29, p = 0.015) in the subgroup of children with moderate OSA, but not across the entire sample. At 7-months follow-up, changes in CAP parameters were comparable between the eAT and WWSC arms. CAP changes did not account for significant proportions of variations in behavioral, cognitive, and quality-of-life performance measures at follow-up.

Conclusions: We show a significant association between the frequency of slow, high-amplitude waves with behavioral functioning, as well as the quality of life in children with moderate OSA. Early AT in children with mild-to-moderate OSA does not alter the microstructure of nonrapid eye movement sleep compared with watchful waiting after an approximately 7-month period of follow-up.

Clinical trial: The study "A Randomized Controlled Study of Adenotonsillectomy for Children With Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome" was registered at (#NCT00560859).

Keywords: adenotonsillectomy; child behavior; children; cognitive performance; cyclic alternating pattern; deep learning; quality of life; sleep; sleep-disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / surgery
  • Tonsillectomy*

Associated data