Childhood obesity, weight loss and developmental trajectories predict the persistence and remission of childhood sleep-disordered breathing

S. S. Frye, J. Fernandez-Mendoza, S. L. Calhoun, J. Gaines, A. N. Vgontzas, D. Liao, E. O. Bixler

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17 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity has been recognized as a risk factor for childhood sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), yet it remains unclear how obesity and weight change predict the course of childhood SDB. Objective: The objective of the study is to investigate the role of body weight, upper airway abnormalities and developmental trajectories on the persistence and remission of childhood SDB in the transition to adolescence. Methods: The Penn State Child Cohort is a representative population sample of 700 children (5–12 years), of whom 421 were followed up as adolescents (12–23 years). Participants underwent a clinical history, physical examination and polysomnography at both time points. Results: Obesity and enlarged tonsils were cross-sectionally associated with childhood SDB. Longitudinally, baseline obesity predicted the persistence of childhood SDB (OR = 3.75, 95% CI = 2.00–7.05), while weight loss predicted its remission (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.11–2.50). Children with enlarged tonsils who remitted from SDB had not experienced significant weight loss and only 4.4% had undergone adeno/tonsillectomy. Body fat distribution/composition at follow-up was similar in those who had remitted from childhood SDB as compared with those who had never experienced SDB, while those who persisted with childhood SDB showed significant android distribution and visceral adiposity at follow-up. Conclusions: Our data support a causal role for obesity and weight loss in the chronicity and remission, respectively, of childhood SDB in the transition to adolescence and suggest that remission of SDB is related to developmental trajectories of the upper airway in a significant proportion of children. Thus, targeting childhood obesity and weight gain should be a priority in the prevention and treatment of SDB during this critical developmental period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12461
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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