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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Children's Health - Sleep Aid -

Kids’ neck size may point to risk of sleep apnea

Children's Health • • Sleep AidJun 16, 08

Children with bigger neck sizes for their age seem to be more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome, researchers report.

OSA occurs when soft tissues in the throat collapse and block the airway during sleep, so that breathing is briefly but repeatedly interrupted. Chronic snoring is often a sign of the problem. Because it disturbs sleep, it can lead to tiredness during the day as well as other problems.

The new report comes from SLEEP 2008, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. OSA has “many adverse neurocognitive consequences if left untreated in the child,” the study team notes in their meeting materials.

They conclude, based on their study, that parents of children with bigger neck sizes for age should be asked if their child snores or makes gasping noises during sleep, and whether they seem excessively sleepy or show signs of hyperactivity.

Neck size in adults has been shown to correlate with the presence of OSA. To see if the same is true in children, Dr. Pearl L. Yu from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, and colleagues studied 242 children, ranging in age from 2 to 20, who were referred to a pediatric sleep center.

Nearly 40 percent of the children were obese, and these children were more likely to be snorers, the team found.

Yu and her colleagues also found that the more that neck size deviated from the expected measurement for a given age, the higher was the apnea score in terms of the number of breathing interruptions that occurred per hour during sleep.

In fact, neck size correlated with the apnea score better than did the child’s body mass index (BMI), or weight, or tonsil size.

It is well known that kids with enlarged tonsils and adenoids are at increased risk for OSA, Yu noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. “Our findings indicate that kids who are obese, have a large neck size and do not have adenotonsil (enlargement) are at increased risk for having OSA syndrome.”

“Even if a child does not have big adenoids and tonsils,” Yu concluded, “you have to still ask about sleep apnea symptoms, especially if the child has a big neck and is overweight.”

By Megan Rauscher
NEW YORK (Reuters Health)

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