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Central sleep-disordered breathing and the effects of oxygen therapy in infants with Prader-Willi syndrome
  1. D S Urquhart1,2,
  2. T Gulliver1,3,
  3. G Williams1,
  4. M A Harris1,
  5. O Nyunt4,
  6. S Suresh1
  1. 1Department of Paediatric Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Mater Children's Hospital, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Department of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Department of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Mater Children Hospital, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sadasivam Suresh, Department of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane, QLD 4101, Australia; Sadasivam.Suresh{at}


Objectives To describe breathing patterns in infants with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), as well as the effects of supplemental oxygen (O2) on breathing patterns. Children with PWS commonly have sleep-disordered breathing, including hypersomnolence and obstructive sleep apnoea, as well as central sleep breathing abnormalities that are present from infancy.

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Patients Infants with a diagnosis of PWS.

Setting Tertiary children's hospital.

Interventions Infants with PWS underwent full polysomnography, and in those with frequent desaturations associated with central events, supplemental O2 during sleep was started and followed with regular split-night studies (periods in both air and O2).

Results Thirty split-night studies on 10 infants (8 female) aged 0.06–1.79 (median 0.68, IQR 0.45, 1.07) years were undertaken. At baseline (ie, air), children with PWS had a median (IQR) central apnoea index (CAI) of 4.7 (1.9, 10.6) per hour, with accompanying falls in oxygen saturation (SpO2). O2 therapy led to statistically significant reductions in CAI to 2.5/hour (p=0.002), as well as a reduced central event index (CEI) and improved SpO2. No change in the number of obstructive events was noted. Central events were more prevalent in rapid-eye movement/active sleep.

Conclusions It is concluded that infants with PWS may have central sleep-disordered breathing, which, in some children, may cause frequent desaturations. Improvements in CAI and CEI as well as oxygenation were noted with O2 therapy. Longitudinal work with this patient group would help to establish the timing of onset of obstructive symptoms.

  • Sleep
  • Respiratory

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