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Life Expectancy Of Children With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that is more commonly found in developed countries as compared to developing countries. The common age of presentation is above 65 years which usually is near the life expectancy of a person.

Life Expectancy Of Children With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

According to a study conducted, there has been a steep rise in a number of cases of obstructive sleep apnea in children as well as adolescents. The prevalence has also gone high with more numbers to be present with each increasing year of age but it is still very less than the adults. Obstructive sleep apnea in childhood is mainly attributed to an increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity. The patient is many more times likely to suffer from this condition is found to be obese than non-obese children.

There is a wide difference in sex ratio involved with Obstructive sleep apnea disease being more prevalent in males than in females. The ratio is about 2/3:1 in adults as well as in children. Some studies have informed the ratio to be 4:1. In a study specially conducted upon children and adolescents, it was found that 6% of the adolescents usually encounter the episode of obstructive sleep apnea per week.

The best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure. The prognosis in adults with the CPAP is good to excellent and there is no reduction in life expectancy in adults aged above 65 years. But when it comes to the children there is a reduction in life expectancy because of the fact that CPAP has to be managed for a longer period of time or may even continue for a lifetime which greatly reduces the quality of life as well as increases the morbidity for the child.

The variation among the children is also seen based upon race and ethnicity. African Americans are more likely to suffer from this disease than white people. It has been postulated with the help of odds ratio which is above 3 for the children below the age of 13 years and 1.88 for the age of adolescents below 25 years. The odds ratio represents the chances of being affected upon the chances of being not affected which are considerably higher in African Americans. It may also be related due to the anatomical differences in the craniofacial characteristics.

In a 2012 study, the association between the Obstructive sleep apnea and mortality was investigated among the group of 77000 with the use of portable sleep monitoring devices and was found that the people aged below 50 years had a higher risk of mortality by all causes including cardiovascular mortality also. And it was also concluded that the mortality rate was more severe in younger age group especially in children.[1]

The continuous use of the treatment modality known as continuous positive airway pressure is also responsible for the development of various lung diseases like interstitial lung disease which also contributes significantly to the mortality and morbidity caused by obstructive sleep apnea.


Obstructive sleep apnea is more commonly found in the elderly age group and it is associated with excellent prognosis if the diagnosis is made early and with the continuous use of CPAP. Childhood obesity is the prominent cause responsible in modern society for the causation of obstructive sleep apnea in children. If the treatment modality is used continuously, for example, CPAP then the prognosis is much better than the patients who do not use it or are diagnosed at a later stage. But it is associated with additional morbidity due to the significant lung changes occurring due to its consistent use. Overall it is concluded that the life expectancy of a child especially a male child suffering from obstructive sleep apnea is reduced due to one or the other factor and greatly depends upon the time of diagnosis and treatment also.


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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 3, 2021

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