"The benefits occurred even when children did not fully adhere to the treatment," said study leader Doctor Carole L. Marcus. The Sleep Centre follows thousands of children and adolescents with sleep problems.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a condition of interrupted breathing caused by a narrowing in the throat or upper airway, related to large tonsils and adenoids, obesity or other medical problems. Using continuous positive airway pressure commonly relieves OSAS in adults, in whom it has been studied extensively. However, there have been few studies of PAP in children with OSAS.
"The vast majority of children with OSAS undergo surgery on their tonsils and adenoids instead of receiving PAP therapy," said Marcus. "It is difficult to get children to wear the mask used in PAP treatments." However, surgery is not always effective in treating OSAS in children, especially in obese children," said Marcus. She added that many children who require PAP therapy have underlying chronic illnesses such as Down syndrome, or developmental delays.
Furthermore, the rising incidence of obesity among children and adolescents has also increased the rate of OSAS in young people.
The current study followed 52 children and adolescents with OSAS at Children's Hospital. The patients had a mean age of 12 years old, and 10 of them had significant developmental delays. The study team assessed sleepiness, behavioural problems, attention, and quality of life at baseline and after three months of PAP treatment.
The researchers found significant improvements in attention deficits, daytime sleepiness, behaviours such as anxiety and shyness, and quality of life. Both the parents and children reported on quality of life using standardised questionnaires that asked about feelings, daily activities, getting along with other children, and keeping up with schoolwork.
"We found that improvements occurred even when children were only using PAP as little as three hours a night," said Marcus, who noted that higher compliance would be expected to yield greater benefits. She added that getting children to fully adhere to treatments requires a commitment by parents and family members to a behavioral plan that supports the treatments.
MEDICA.de; Source: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia