Obstructive sleep apnea in infants

  • Katz E
  • Mitchell R
  • D'Ambrosio C
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Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnea in infants has a distinctive pathophysiology, natural history, and treatment compared with that of older children and adults. Infants have both anatomical and physiological predispositions toward airway obstruction andgas exchange abnormalities; including a superiorly placed larynx, increased chestwall compliance, ventilation-perfusion mismatching, and ventilatory control instability. Congenital abnormalities of the airway, such as laryngomalacia, hemangiomas, pyriform aperture stenosis, choanal atresia, and laryngeal webs, may also have adverse effects on airway patency. Additional exacerbating factors predisposing infants toward airway collapse include neck flexion, airway secretions, gastroesophageal reflux, and sleep deprivation. Obstructive sleep apnea in infants has been associatedwith failure to thrive, behavioral deficits, and sudden infant death. The proper interpretation of infant polysomnography requires an understanding of normative data related to gestation and postconceptual age for apnea, arousal, and oxygenation. Direct visualization of the upper airway is an important diagnostic modality in infants with obstructive apnea. Treatment options for infant obstructive sleep apnea are predicated on the underlying etiology, including supraglottoplasty for severe laryngomalacia, mandibular distraction formicrognathia, tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, choanal atresia repair, and/or treatment of gastroesophageal reflux. Copyright © 2012 by the American Thoracic Society.

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Authors

  • Eliot S. Katz

  • Ron B. Mitchell

  • Carolyn M. D'Ambrosio

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