Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) during childhood and the effects of growth and maturation on CPAP requirements.
Design: Retrospective study with use of a written questionnaire administered to pediatric practitioners treating sleep disorders.
Setting: Nine academic pediatric sleep disorders centers.
Results: Data were obtained for 94 patients. Three percent of patients receiving CPAP were less than 1 year, 29% were 1 to 5 years, 36% were 6 to 12 years, and 32% were 13 to 19 years of age; 64% were boys. The longest duration of CPAP use was 4 years. Indications for CPAP included OSA associated with obesity (27%), craniofacial anomalies (25%), idiopathic OSA persisting after adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy (17%), and trisomy 21 (13%). Continuous positive airway pressure was effective in 81 patients (86%), in one patient it was unsuccessful, and in 12 patients compliance was inadequate. The median pressure required was 8 cm H2O (range, 4 to 20 cm H2O); pressure requirements were independent of age or diagnosis. Twenty-two percent of patients eventually required a modification of CPAP levels. Complications of CPAP were minor. Sixty-four percent of centers reported difficulty in obtaining funding for CPAP.
Conclusions: Continuous positive airway pressure is safe, effective, and well tolerated by children and adolescents with OSA. Experience in infants is limited. As pressure requirements change with patient growth, we recommend that CPAP requirements be regularly reevaluated over time. The marked center-to-center variability in CPAP use suggests that specific indications for this therapy require clarification.