Clinical Trial
Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
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Arousal and ventilatory responses during sleep in children with obstructive sleep apnea.

Abnormal central regulation of upper airway muscles may contribute to the pathophysiology of the childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). We hypothesized that this was secondary to global abnormalities of ventilatory control during sleep. We therefore compared the response to chemical stimuli during sleep between prepubertal children with OSAS and controls. Patients with OSAS aroused at a higher PCO2 (58 +/- 2 vs. 60 +/- 5 Torr, P < 0.05); those with the highest apnea index had the highest arousal threshold (r = 0.52, P < 0.05). The hypercapnic arousal threshold decreased after treatment. For all subjects, hypoxia was a poor stimulus to arousal, whereas hypercapnia and, particularly, hypoxic hypercapnia were potent stimuli to arousal. Hypercapnia resulted in decreased airway obstruction in OSAS. Ventilatory responses were similar between patients with OSAS and controls; however, the sample size was small. We conclude that children with OSAS have slightly blunted arousal responses to hypercapnia. However, the overall ventilatory and arousal responses are normal in children with OSAS, indicating that a global deficit in respiratory drive is not a major factor in the etiology of childhood OSAS. Nevertheless, subtle abnormalities in ventilatory control may exist.

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