Role of ventilatory control instability in children with sleep-disordered breathing

Leon S. Siriwardhana, Aidan Weichard, Gillian M. Nixon, Margot J. Davey, Lisa M. Walter, Bradley A. Edwards, Rosemary S.C. Horne

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Background and objective: The contribution of non-anatomical factors, such as ventilatory control instability (i.e. LG), to the pathogenesis of obstructive SDB in children is unclear. Therefore, we aimed to identify the relationship between LG and severity of SDB, demographic, anthropometric and anatomical characteristics in a clinically representative cohort of children. Methods: Children (aged 3–18 years) with various severities of SDB (n = 110) and non-snoring controls (n = 36) were studied. Children were grouped according to their OAHI. Anthropometric and upper airway anatomical characteristics were measured. Spontaneous sighs were identified on polysomnography and LG, a measure of the sensitivity of the negative feedback loop that controls ventilation, was estimated by fitting a mathematical model of ventilatory control to the post-sigh ventilatory pattern. Results: There was no difference in LG between controls and any of the SDB severity groups. However, LG was significantly lower in children with larger tonsils (tonsil grade 4) compared with children with smaller tonsils (tonsil grade 1) (median LG (range): 0.25 (0.20–0.42) vs 0.32 (0.25–0.44); P = 0.009) and in children with a modified Mallampati score of class III/IV compared with class I (0.28 (0.24–0.33) vs 0.37 (0.27–0.44); P = 0.009). Conclusion: A direct relationship was not found between the severity of paediatric SDB and LG. However, an altered ventilatory control sensitivity may contribute to SDB in a subgroup of children depending on their degree of anatomical compromise of the airway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1174-1182
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • loop gain
  • paediatric
  • sleep
  • sleep-disordered breathing
  • ventilatory control

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