Sleep Apnea Linked to Heart Risks in Children

WEDNESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) — Young children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may suffer some of the same harmful cardiovascular consequences seen in older children and adults with the condition, Israeli researchers say.

"OSA starts from the first year of life, yet very little is known regarding the cognitive, cardiovascular and other medical consequences," study leader Dr. Aviv Goldbart, a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Ben-Gurion University's Soroka Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

In this study — the first to examine the relationship between systemic inflammation and cardiovascular problems in children with obstructive sleep apnea — the researchers assessed 70 children, ages 12 to 26 months, with confirmed OSA before they had surgery to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

The researchers checked the children's levels of N Terminal pro B type Natriuretric Peptide (NTproBNP), a marker of ventricular strain, and C Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation.

Compared to a control group of children without OSA, 46 of the children with OSA had significantly higher levels of NTproBNP and of CRP. When the researchers checked 20 of the children in the OSA group three months after their surgery, their average levels of NTproBNP and CRP were less than the control group.

The findings were to be presented May 21 at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference, in Toronto.

"Increased levels of CRP in children with OSA may require cardiovascular assessment," Goldbart said. "But further studies are needed first to determine the need to diagnose and treat OSA at a very young age.

The researchers plan a follow-up study to examine if abnormal cardiovascular function in the children with OSA increases their risk for cardiovascular problems as adults.

— Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 21, 2008

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