Descriptive analysis of central sleep apnea in childhood at a single center


Division of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.


Data on central (CSA) and its significance in children are limited. Our objectives were to describe the polysomnogram (PSG) characteristics and clinical features of children with significant CSA at a single pediatric sleep center.


A retrospective chart review of children diagnosed with CSA on a PSG, from January 2007 to December 2008, was performed. All the PSG’s were performed in the pediatric sleep laboratory at The Hospital for SickChildren in Toronto, Canada. All children diagnosed with significant CSA with a PSG was eligible for inclusion. Each PSG was conducted and scored according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine standard. Significant CSA was defined as a central apnea index (CAI) of >5 events/hr. Outcome for each patient was defined by the percentage change in the CAI at follow up.


52/969 (5.4%) patients had a CAI > 5/hr on a baseline PSG. Of the 25/52 (13 males) patients who met inclusion criteria, the median age was 19 months (range 3-156 months) and their median BMI z score was +0.27 (range -2.95 to 3.02). The median CAI was 11 events/hr (range 6-198/hr). The mean oxygen saturations ranged from 92.8% to 98.5%, with a median of 97%. Six (24%) patients had associated sleep-related hypoventilation and none of the patients had periodic breathing. The commonest identifiable risk factor for CSA in the study population was a neurological disorder.


This study confirms that CSA is an important finding in a significant number of young children referred for an evaluation for suspected sleep related disordered breathing. Any child diagnosed with CSA warrants full clinical assessment, including neuro-imaging. Future research should aim to evaluate the long term outcome of significant CSA.


Pediatr Pulmonol. 2011 Apr 25. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21469.

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