Snoring, apneic episodes, and nocturnal hypoxemia among children 6 months to 6 years old. An epidemiologic study of lower limit of prevalence

Chest. 1995 Apr;107(4):963-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.107.4.963.


Study objective: To identify a lower limit of the prevalence of sleep-related breathing disturbances among preschool children.

Design: A cross-sectional epidemiologic study in two stages, first by questionnaires and second by whole-night investigation of children symptomatic of the sleep apnea syndrome.

Setting: Gardabaer, a small town, 10 km south of Reykjavìk, Iceland.

Participants: All children in Gardabaer, 6 months to 6 years old (n = 555).

Measurements: Symptom score estimated by questionnaire and respiratory events based on overnight oximetry, thermistors, and a static charge sensitive bed.

Results: The response rate was 81.8%. Snoring was reported as often or very often among 14 (3.2%) and occasionally by 73 (16.7%). Apneic episodes were reported often or very often among seven (1.6%). Altogether 18 children were highly suspected of the sleep apnea syndrome because of habitual snoring or apneic episodes. The girls (n = 9) were older than the boys (mean age: 46 +/- 21 months vs 20 +/- 12 months, p < 0.001). Eventually 11 children came for a whole-night investigation and 8 of them showed more than three respiratory events per hour of sleep, associated with > or = 4% oxygen desaturation. The lower limit of the sleep apnea syndrome prevalence among these children was thus 2.9% (SE, 0.5%).

Conclusions: Among children, symptoms such as snoring and apneic episodes are reported relatively seldom, but a high proportion of the children with these symptoms have hypoxic respiratory events.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / epidemiology*
  • Iceland / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Snoring / epidemiology*