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Pierre Robin sequence causes position-dependent obstructive sleep apnoea in infants


Introduction Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and feeding difficulties are key problems for Pierre Robin sequence (PRS) infants. OSA management varies between treatment centres. Sleep positioning represents the traditional OSA treatment, although its effectiveness remains insufficiently evaluated.

Design To complete a polysomnographic (PSG) evaluation of effect of sleep position on OSA in PRS infants less than 3 months of age. We analysed a 10-year national reference centre dataset of 76 PRS infants. PSG was performed as daytime recordings for 67 in the supine, side and prone sleeping position when possible. In most cases, recording included one cycle of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in each position.

Results One-third of infants (9/76, 12%) had severe OSA needing treatment intervention prior to PSG. During PSG, OSA with an obstructive apnoea and hypopnoea index (OAHI) >5 per hour was noted in 82% (55/67) of infants. OSA was most severe in the supine and mildest in the side or in the prone positions. The median OAHI in the supine, side and prone positions were 31, 16 and 19 per hour of sleep (p=0.003). For 68% (52/67) of the infants, either no treatment or positional treatment alone was considered sufficient.

Conclusions The incidence of OSA was 84% (64/76) including the nine infants with severe OSA diagnosed prior to PSG. For the most infants, the OSA was sleep position dependent. Our study results support the use of PSG in the evaluation of OSA and the use of sleep positioning as a part of OSA treatment.

  • sleep
  • growth

Data availability statement

No data are available. Additional material is published online only.

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