Are there gender differences in the severity and consequences of sleep disordered in children?

Rosemary S.C. Horne, Chelsea Ong, Aidan Weichard, Gillian M. Nixon, Margot J. Davey

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In adults there is a distinct gender difference in the prevalence and severity of sleep disordered breathing (SDB), however there have been limited studies examining the effects of gender in children with SDB. We aimed to compare the effects of gender on severity of SDB, blood pressure, sleep and respiratory characteristics, quality of life, behavior and executive function. Methods: We included 533 children aged 3–18 years, who underwent standard pediatric overnight polysomnography (PSG) between 2004 and 2016. Blood pressure was recorded prior to each study. Quality of life, behavior and executive function were assessed with parental questionnaires. Children were grouped by gender and SDB severity based on their obstructive apnea hypopnea index (OAHI) into non-snoring controls, Primary Snoring (PS) (OAHI≤1 event/h), Mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (OAHI>1-≤5 events/h) and moderate/severe (MS) OSA (OAHI>5 events/h) and data compared with 2-way ANOVA. Results: A total of 298 boys and 235 girls were studied. There were no differences in age, BMI z-score, SDB severity sleep characteristics or blood pressure between genders. Diastolic blood pressure was elevated in females with MS OSA compared to males (P < 0.05). Quality of life, behavior and executive function scores were all elevated in the SDB groups compared to controls. Females with MS OSA exhibited more internalizing behavioral problems compared to males (59.2 ± 2.4 vs. 51.4 ± 2.3, P < 0.05). Conclusions: In contrast to studies in adults, we identified no gender differences in the severity or consequences of SDB in children, other than females with moderate-severe OSA exhibiting more internalizing problems and higher diastolic blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Behavior
  • Blood pressure
  • Executive function
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Quality of life

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