A new study has revealed that sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can include various sleep behaviours ranging in severity from snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), disproportionately affects kids who are overweight and African- American.
Since the obesity epidemic is increasing in the U.S., doctors are finding more and more far-reaching health concerns for overweight kids.
According to the study, Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can pose serious health threats, including hypertension and higher risk for cardiac disease.
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond conducted a study involving 299 kids, ages 2 to 18 years old.
The principal study group consisted of kids scheduled to undergo adenotonsillectomy for treatment of SDB. The control group consisted of children presenting to a primary care pediatric clinic for well-child visits on randomly selected dates.
Each kids' chart was reviewed for demographic data that included age, gender, race/ethnicity, height, and weight. Body mass index was calculated from the height and weight of each child.
Findings revealed that 46 percent of kids scheduled for surgery for SDB were overweight, compared with 33 percent in the control group. This ratio is far less than would be expected in the general population, where obesity in children with SDB would occur approximately ten times more commonly than obesity in the general pediatric population.
A possible explanation for the smaller ratio of obesity in children with SDB compared to controls is that there may be a lack of awareness of the link between obesity and SDB among primary healthcare providers and caregivers.
Findings also revealed that kids who are African-American and have SDB were more likely to be obese.
"The need to promote awareness of the association between SDB and obesity, particularly in African- American children and adolescents, among educators, caregivers, primary care providers, and the general public cannot be overemphasized," said study lead author Emily F. Rudnick, MD.
Researchers noted that in general there is clearly a complex role that race and ethnicity play in predicting obesity and SDB, and encouraged additional research into this public health issue.
The new study is published in the December 2007 edition of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.