Overnight pulse oximetry for evaluation of sleep apnea among children with trisomy 21

Andrea M. Coverstone, Merielle Bird, Melissa Sicard, Yu Tao, Dorothy K. Grange, Claudia Cleveland, David Molter, James S. Kemp

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22 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: For children with trisomy 21, polysomnography at age 4 to assess obstructive sleep disordered breathing (OSDB) is the standard of care. Oximetry alone has been used to screen for disease among children without trisomy 21. This study evaluates the potential usefulness of oximetry scoring in diagnosing OSDB among children with trisomy 21.

Methods: A McGill oximetry score from 1 to 4 was derived from a full overnight PSG done on 119 consecutive pediatric subjects with trisomy 21. Most were referred to the sleep laboratory because of suspicion for OSDB. Oximetry scorers were blinded to the child's full PSG and clinical course. Results of the complete PSG were then compared to oximetry scores.

Results: Obstructive apnea-hypopnea index (OAHI) was ≥ 2.5 for 50% of all subjects. Fifty-nine subjects (49.6%) had McGill Score 1 ("inconclusive"); median OAHI was 1.0 (IQR 0.4-3.3). McGill Score was 2 for 43 subjects (36.1%); median OAHI was 4.5 (IQR 1.3-8.8). Seventeen subjects (14.3%) had McGill Scores of 3 or 4; median OAHI was 16.1 (IQR 9.3-45.5, range 2.1 to 101.1). Ten percent of subjects had a considerable number of central events (≥ 2.5 respiratory events/h but OAHI > 2.5), including 7 with McGill Score 2.

Conclusions: In a retrospective cohort of children with trisomy 21, McGill oximetry scores of 3 or 4 reliably identified patients with marked OSDB. The possibility of central apneas causing hypoxemia must be considered in those with McGill Score 2. With these caveats, oximetry screening should be considered when developing streamlined protocols for early intervention to treat OSDB in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014


  • Central apnea
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Trisomy 21


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