The authors of this study aimed to evaluate the use of polysomnography (PSG) in children with Down syndrome (DS) between ages 0 and 7 years, to assess the prevalence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and associated comorbidities, and to describe interventions used for OSA.


A retrospective cohort study was performed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for children with DS born between 2013 and 2019. Data were extracted from the electronic medical record, including demographics, age at PSG, PSG results, and interventions after an abnormal PSG. Statistical analysis included unadjusted bivariate association testing and multivariable logistic regression modeling to investigate associations with OSA severity.


Among 397 patients in the cohort, 59% (n = 235) had a documented PSG and 94% (n = 221) had an abnormal study with 60% (n = 141) demonstrating moderate or severe OSA. There was an inverse relationship between age and OSA severity (P < .001). In a multiple regression model, OSA severity was associated with increased rates of failure to thrive (P < .01), aspiration (P = .02), and laryngomalacia (P < .01). After medical or surgical intervention, 73% of patients experienced the resolution of OSA or an improvement in OSA severity.


In this study of pediatric patients with DS, OSA was identified most frequently in the first year of life. In addition, to prompt evaluation of symptomatic infants, our data support earlier PSG screening for patients requiring neonatal ICU care and those with feeding difficulties, airway abnormalities, and/or pulmonary hypertension given their increased risk for severe OSA.

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