From the Journals

Dysregulated sleep is common in children with eosinophilic esophagitis



Children with eosinophilic esophagitis often experience respiratory and motor disturbances during sleep, which appear related to dysregulated sleep architecture, Rasintra Siriwat, MD, and colleagues have ascertained.

Boy sleeping ©Alex Vasilev/

Children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) also were found to have a high prevalence of atopic diseases, including allergic rhinitis and eczema – findings that could be driving the breathing problems, said Dr. Siriwat, a neurology fellow at the Cleveland Clinic, and coauthors.

The retrospective study comprised 81 children with a diagnosis of EoE who were referred to sleep clinics. In this group, 46 of the children had active EoE (having gastrointestinal symptoms, including feeding difficulties, dysphagia, reflux, nausea/vomiting, or epigastric pain at presentation). The other 35 had an EoE diagnosis but no symptoms on presentation and were categorized as having inactive EoE. Most were male (71.6%) and white (92.5%). The mean age in the cohort was 10 years and the mean body mass index for all subjects was 22 kg/m2. A control group of 192 children without an EoE diagnosis who had overnight polysomnography were included in the analysis.

Allergic-type comorbidities were common among those with active EoE, including allergic rhinitis (55.5%), food allergy (39.5%), and eczema (26%). In addition, a quarter had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 22% an autism spectrum disorder, 21% a neurological disease, and 29% a psychiatric disorder.

Several sleep complaints were common in the entire EoE cohort, including snoring (76.5 %), restless sleep (66.6%), legs jerking or leg discomfort (43.2%), and daytime sleepiness (58%).

All children underwent an overnight polysomnography. Compared with controls, the children with EoE had significantly higher non-REM2 sleep, significantly lower non-REM3 sleep, lower REM, increased periodic leg movement disorder, and increased arousal index.

“Of note, we found a much higher percentage of [periodic leg movement disorder] in active EoE compared to inactive EoE,” the authors said.

The most common sleep diagnosis for the children with EoE was sleep-disordered breathing. Of 62 children with EoE and sleep disordered breathing, 37% had obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Two patients had central sleep apnea and five had nocturnal hypoventilation. Children with EoE also reported parasomnia symptoms such as sleep talking (35.8%), sleepwalking (16%), bruxism (23.4%), night terrors (28.4%), and nocturnal enuresis (21.2%).

Of the 59 children with leg movement, 20 had periodic limb movement disorder and 5 were diagnosed with restless leg syndrome. Two were diagnosed with narcolepsy and three with hypersomnia. Four children had a circadian rhythm disorder.

“Notably, the majority of children with EoE had symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, and more than one-third of total subjects were diagnosed with OSA,” the authors noted. “However, most of them were mild-moderate OSA. It should be noted that the prevalence of OSA in the pediatric population is 1%-5% mostly between the ages of 2-8 years, while the mean age of our subjects was 10 years old. The high prevalence of mild-moderate OSA in the EoE population might be explained by the relationship between EoE and atopic disease.”

Dr. Siriwat had no financial disclosures. The study was supported by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Fund.

SOURCE: Siriwat R et al. Sleep Med. 2019 Sep 11. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2019.08.018.

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