Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center studied obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in a large group of children and concluded that underweight children with OSA are more likely to have decreased height, tonsillar hypertrophy, and allergic rhinitis. Screening these children for suspected OSA could be highly effective, say the researchers.
“We recommend nocturnal polysomnography [PSG] for suspected OSA in symptomatic underweight children in order to provide timely diagnosis and treatment, especially in those children with a history of large tonsils and/or allergies,” said Ron Mitchell, MD, professor and vice chairman in the department of otolaryngology, in a release.
The study is published in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.
In this study, underweight children who had a PSG for suspected OSA had a mean age of 6.4 years, and 75% were Hispanic or Black. Over 50% of them had at least two comorbidities, with allergies and neurologic abnormalities being the most common. Overall, the demographic and clinical characteristics between underweight children with and without OSA were similar. Height was negatively correlated with OSA, while tonsillar hypertrophy and allergies were predictors of OSA. No predictors of severe OSA were identified in this population.
Mitchell is also chief of pediatric otolaryngology who practices at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. He has devoted much of his career to untangling the intertwined problems of OSA, large tonsils, and obesity. He studies how surgery for OSA affects kids’ behavior, sleep, health, and quality of life. Mitchell is the current president of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO), and is the chair of multiple committees including a recent task force of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery that published Clinical Practice Guideline: Tonsillectomy in Children. He holds the William Beckner, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Otolaryngology.
Additional UT Southwestern researchers involved include Courtney Johnson, Taylor Leavitt , and Romaine F. Johnson.