[Prevalence of sleep disorders in school children between 11 and 15 years of age]

O S Ipsiroglu, A Fatemi, I Werner, M Tiefenthaler, M S Urschitz, B Schwarz
Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift 2001 April 17, 113 (7): 235-44

UNLABELLED: Little is known about sleep disorders in children and adolescents that might affect physical and emotional well-being. Depending on age and size of the cohort group, and differences in questionnaires, prevalence varies between 1-43% in international studies. We examined the prevalence of symptoms characteristic of sleep disorders in school aged children with a questionnaire which allows indication of symptoms by the children themselves.

METHODS: An anonymous questionnaire, based on the German Dresden questionnaire, with 22 questions concerning the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), general symptoms of para- and insomnia as well as sociodemographic data, was developed. 332 pupils (age: 11-15 y, mean: 12.75 y; median: 12 y; 56% female, 44% male) in 2 high schools in Vienna were investigated.

RESULTS: 28% (n = 93/332) of the examined group reported snoring (the main symptom of OSAS) and/or insomnia (night waking almost every night) or parasomnia (nightmares, night terrors or sleepwalking almost every night). 15% (n = 14/93) of this subgroup reported snoring and para- or insomnia coincidentally. Girls were affected more frequently than boys by nocturnal awakening (79% vs. 56%, p < 0.001) and nightmares (64% vs. 52%, p < 0.01). The snoring group (21% (71/332) of all examined children) was affected more frequently by mouth dryness (16% vs. 4%, p < 0.001), pallor (7% vs. 3%, p < 0.01), night sweats (6% vs. 1%, p < 0.05) and from the following sleep disorders: nightmares (10% vs. 2%, p < 0.01), night terrors (4% vs. 1.5%, p < 0.001), sleepwalking (1.4% vs. 1%, p < 0.05) and nocturnal awakening (16% vs. 5%, p < 0.01).

DISCUSSION: Almost every fifth child reports about at least one main symptom characteristic of OSAS. The statistically significant relation between symptoms of OSAS and non-organic sleep disorders shows the necessity of interdisciplinary focusing on sleep disorders. Further epidemiological studies need to be carried out in order to clarify the role of sleep anamnesis in the diagnosis and management of sleep disorders during childhood.

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