A recently study from Children's Hospital showed that children and adolescents with obstructive sleep apnea experienced substantial improvements in attention, anxiety and quality of life after being treated with positive airway pressure (PAP) - a nighttime therapy in which a machine delivers a stream of air through a mask into the nose.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a condition of interrupted breathing caused by a narrowing in the throat or upper airway, related to large tonsils and adenoids, obesity or other medical problems. Using continuous positive airway pressure commonly relieves OSAS in adults, in whom it has been studied extensively. However, there have been few studies of PAP in children with OSAS.
In fact, many children with OSAS undergo surgery on their tonsils and adenoids instead of receiving PAP therapy, although surgery is not always effective in treating the condition.
Carole L. Marcus, M.D., a sleep specialist and director of the
Sleep Center at Children's Hospital, followed 52 children and adolescents with OSAS. Dr. Marcus and her team assessed sleepiness, behavioral problems, attention, and quality of life at baseline and after three months of PAP treatment. What they found were significant improvements in attention deficits, daytime sleepiness, behaviors such as anxiety and shyness, and quality of life. Both the parents and children reported on quality of life using standardized questionnaires that asked about feelings, daily activities, getting along with other children, and keeping up with schoolwork.
"This study was the first comprehensive study of PAP use in children, so more research should be performed, but our results have encouraging implications for using this treatment in children with sleep apnea," said Dr. Marcus.
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Read the study's PubMed abstract