Abnormal sleep patterns appear common in children with Down syndrome

April 17, 2006

More than half of children with Down syndrome may have abnormal sleep patterns and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and parents may not be able to determine whether their children are among those with sleep difficulties, according to an article in the April issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when, during sleep, an individual's upper airway becomes blocked, resulting in a temporary cessation of breathing. OSA occurs in an estimated 30 to 60 percent of the Down syndrome (DS) population, according to background information in the article. Children with DS also are at greater risk for the development of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), a broader term for sleep abnormalities that includes complete and partial airway obstruction, chronic obstructive hypoventilation (inadequate ventilation with not enough air getting in the lungs) with hypercarbia (excess of carbon dioxide in the blood) and hypoxemia (lower than normal amount of oxygen in the blood).

Sally R. Shott, M.D., and colleagues from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, performed sleep studies on children with Down syndrome to determine the occurrence of OSAS. Fifty-six children with Down syndrome (ages four to 63 months, average age 42 months) completed overnight polysomnography (PSG), a test of sleep studies that monitors brain waves, breathing, stages of sleep and oxygen levels in the blood, among other variables. The children's parents also completed a survey about their child's sleep behaviors.

Thirty-two (57 percent) of the children had abnormal PSG results and evidence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. When the researchers included an elevated arousal index (ten or more disturbances in sleep per hour), 80 percent of the children had abnormal results. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep should make up 25 to 30 percent of sleep time in children younger than five years old, and in this group, only nine children spent more than 25 percent of their sleep time in REM. Of the 35 parents who completed surveys, 69 percent of them reported that their children had no sleep problems; however, among that 69 percent of children, 54 percent had abnormal study results. Thirty-six percent of the children of parents who reported sleep problems in their children had abnormal PSG results.

"Because of the high incidence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in young children with Down syndrome, and the poor correlation between parental impressions of sleep problems and PSG results, baseline PSG is recommended in all children with Down syndrome at age three to four years," the authors write.
-end-
(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006; 132: 432 - 436. Available post-embargo at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor's Note: This study was funded partially by the Emily Ann Hayes Down Syndrome Research Fund.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Sleep Articles from Brightsurf:

Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer
Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.

To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.

Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.

Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.

Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.

Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.

Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Read More: Sleep News and Sleep Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.