What is the pathophysiology of childhood obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Updated: Feb 13, 2019
  • Author: Mary E Cataletto, MD; Chief Editor: Denise Serebrisky, MD  more...
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Disordered breathing during sleep is a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Breathing abnormalities include apnea (cessation of air flow) and hypopnea (decreased air flow). In addition, in contrast to adults, some children exhibit a variation of obstructive sleep apnea termed obstructive hypoventilation (OH). Children with obstructive hypoventilation demonstrate periods of hypercapnia that occur in the absence of discrete respiratory events that fulfill the criteria for apnea or hypopnea.

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