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Free Content Respiratory patterns during sleep in Down's syndrome: importance of central apnoeas

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Obstructive sleep apnoea episodes have been reported repeatedly in Down's syndrome (DS) patients as a consequence of the presence of predisposing malformations or intercurrent pathology of the upper airways. There are no data on respiratory patterns of uncomplicated Down's syndrome subjects. In order to evaluate the eventual effects of central nervous system (CNS) impairment on respiration in DS, we studied the respiratory patterns during sleep of a group of 10 DS subjects, aged 8.6–32.2 y, without relevant upper airway pathology. In order to control the possible effects of sleep structure and mental retardation on the results obtained, we compared the findings in DS with those obtained from a group formed by subjects affected by fragile X syndrome (six males and one female, aged 10.0–15.42 y), another genetically determined type of mental retardation. Sleep structure was similar in both groups; however, DS subjects showed significantly higher indices of central sleep apnoea and of oxygen desaturation than fragile X patients (P<0.005). As far as DS individuals were considered, a significant preponderance of central, as opposed to obstructive, sleep apnoeas was found (89.4% vs. 9.4%, respectively; 1.2% were mixed) which showed a significant age-related increase. Central respiratory pauses were mostly preceded by sighs, which occurred more frequently during sleep stages 1 and REM, and were often organized in long sequences of periodic-like breathing. During REM sleep, they were less frequently preceded by sighs and by body movements than during NREM sleep. Obstructive sleep apnoeas occurred more often during REM sleep and were more rarely preceded by sighs or by body movements. Both central and obstructive apnoeas induced significant oxygen desaturation in 50–69.6%. Sleep structure was not significantly modified by apnoeas and oxygen desaturation. We hypothesize that the increase in central sleep apnoeas is related to a dysfunction of the central respiratory control at a brainstem level in DS.
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Keywords: Down's syndrome; brainstem; central sleep apnoea; obstructive sleep apnoea; respiratory pattern; sighs

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Sleep Research Centre, Oasi Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging (IRCCS), Troina, Italy, 2: INSERM, Laboratoire de Physiologie-EF, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France 3: Department of Neurology, Oasi Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging (IRCCS), Troina, Italy,

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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