Conference Coverage

Nonsurgical OSA treatment ineffective in children with Down syndrome



– Resolution of mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children with Down syndrome who were treated nonsurgically with either medication, observation, or supplemental oxygen was low, results from a small cohort study showed.

Dr. Stacey L. Ishman of the University of Cincinnati

Dr. Stacey L. Ishman

“This suggests that we should consider early treatment options, including multimodal approaches, for children with mild OSA and Down syndrome,” one of the study authors, Javier J.M. Howard, MPH, said at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting. “Prospective studies with longer follow-up are needed to better understand treatment outcomes in children with Down syndrome and mild OSA.”

An estimated 1%-6% of otherwise healthy children have obstructive sleep apnea, but the prevalence in children with Down syndrome is estimated to be between 30% and 70%, said Mr. Howard, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati. Additionally, those with Down syndrome tend to have more severe phenotypes, including significant hypoxemia and hypoventilation, compared with children without Down syndrome. “Nasal steroids, oral antileukotrienes, and supplemental oxygen have shown efficacy in the treatment of mild OSA in otherwise healthy children,” he said. “Observation is also employed in children with mild OSA, as a proportion of them will resolve spontaneously. The efficacy of these approaches in children with Down syndrome is unknown.”

In a study led by senior author Stacey L. Ishman, MD, MPH, researchers set out to examine the efficacy of single-medication therapy with either montelukast or intransal steroids versus observation versus oxygen on polysomnographic (PSG) outcomes in children with Down syndrome. They conducted a retrospective chart review of 24 children diagnosed with Down syndrome and mild OSA. The children were surgically naive and were treated between 2012 and 2017 with either supplemental oxygen, a single medication, or were observed. They had a follow-up PSG 3-12 months after initiation of treatment. The primary outcome was obstructive apnea hypopnea index (AHI), while secondary outcomes were oxygen saturation nadir, percent of total sleep time in rapid eye movement, and percentage of total sleep time with end-tidal carbon dioxide of greater than 50 mm Hg.

Of the 24 children, 58% were female, 67% were white, 13 were treated with observation, one was treated with oxygen, and 10 were treated with medication. Their baseline obstructive AHIs were 2.9, 3.5, and 3.3 events per hour, respectively. The follow-up PSGs revealed no statistically significant changes in obstructive AHI, oxygen saturation nadir, percentage of total sleep time in rapid eye movement, or percentage of total sleep time with end-tidal carbon dioxide greater than 50 mm Hg for any treatment group. OSA resolved in one patient in the observation group and in two patients in the medication group. At the same time, OSA worsened in two patients each in the medication and observation groups. Resolution of OSA was observed in 20% of patients in the medication group, compared with 7.1% of those in the observation or oxygen group (P = .82).

Mr. Howard acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including the potential for selection bias, its retrospective design, and its small sample size. “Resolution of mild OSA was low for all of our treatment groups after 3-12 months of treatment,” he said. “Resolution with medication was lower in our study, compared to published studies in otherwise healthy children.”

The researchers reported having no financial disclosures. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the Triological Society and the American College of Surgeons.

SOURCE: Howard J et al .Triological CSM, Abstracts.

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