Israeli researchers have cited in a new study that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in very young children is a major health concern from the beginning.
The researchers said that OSA in very young children may lead to some of the most dangerous cardiovascular health consequences seen in older children and adults with the condition.
"OSA starts from the first year of life. Yet very little is known regarding the cognitive, cardiovascular and other medical consequences," said Aviv Goldbart, M.D., the pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist who led the study at Ben-Gurion University's Soroka Medical Center in Israel.
It was the first study to focus on the relationship between systemic inflammation and cardiovascular morbidity in children with OSA, and involved 70 young children, ages 12 to 26 months, whose OSA was confirmed by polysomnography.
For the study, the children had to undergo adenotonsillectomy (T and A) for eliminating enlarged tonsils and adenoids. On the day of the surgery, the children were tested in the morning for finding out the levels of N Terminal pro B type Natriuretic Peptide (NTproBNP), a peptide marker of ventricular strain and C Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation.
After comparing to matched controls, 46 children with OSA had consoderably higher levels of NTproBNP and of CRP. After three months of surgery, 20 children were evaluated and it was observed that the average levels of NTproBNP and CRP dropped below that of the control group.
"Increased levels of CRP in children with OSA may require cardiovascular assessment. But further studies are needed first to determine the need to diagnose and treat OSA at a very young age," said Dr. Goldbart.
The researchers are planning further research to determine if abnormal cardiovascular function in these children puts them at greater risk for cardiovascular morbidity as adults.
The study will be presenting their findings at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference in Toronto.