Diagnosis and management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Carole L. Marcus, Lee J. Brooks, Sally Davidson Ward, Kari A. Draper, David Gozal, Ann C. Halbower, Jacqueline Jones, Christopher Lehmann, Michael S. Schechter, Stephen Sheldon, Richard N. Shiffman, Karen Spruyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

946 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This technical report describes the procedures involved in developing recommendations on the management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). METHODS: The literature from 1999 through 2011 was evaluated. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: A total of 3166 titles were reviewed, of which 350 provided relevant data. Most articles were level II through IV. The prevalence of OSAS ranged from 0% to 5.7%, with obesity being an independent risk factor. OSAS was associated with cardiovascular, growth, and neurobehavioral abnormalities and possibly inflammation. Most diagnostic screening tests had low sensitivity and specificity. Treatment of OSAS resulted in improvements in behavior and attention and likely improvement in cognitive abilities. Primary treatment is adenotonsillectomy (AT). Data were insuf ficient to recommend specific surgical techniques; however, children undergoing partial tonsillectomy should be monitored for possible recurrence of OSAS. Although OSAS improved postoperatively, the proportion of patients who had residual OSAS ranged from 13% to 29% in lowrisk populations to 73% when obese children were included and stricter polysomnographic criteria were used. Nevertheless, OSAS may improve after AT even in obese children, thus supporting surgery as a reasonable initial treatment. A significant number of obese patients required intubation or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) postoperatively, which reinforces the need for inpatient observation. CPAP was effective in the treatment of OSAS, but adherence is a major barrier. For this reason, CPAP is not recommended as fi rst-line therapy for OSAS when AT is an option. Intranasal steroids may ameliorate mild OSAS, but follow-up is needed. Data were insufficient to recommend rapid maxillary expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e714-e755
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenotonsillectomy
  • Continuous positive airway pressure
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Snoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosis and management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this