Research Into Childhood Obstructive Sleep-Disordered Breathing: A Systematic Review

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Despite recent clinical guideline development, the best pathway of care for children with symptoms of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (oSDB) is still debated. This systematic review aims to map the research in childhood oSDB that has been conducted so far to support further guideline development, identify evidence gaps, and guide future research.


A systematic search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library from inception to November 26, 2015. All publications on childhood oSDB were included, irrespective of type and language. The annual number of publications in the field of oSDB was counted over all years; for those published since January 1, 2011 (ie, the date of the latest literature search of the American Academy of Pediatrics guideline), total and annual numbers of publications across main research themes and methodologies were calculated.


Of the 7,637 unique records retrieved, 5,871 publications were eligible for inclusion. There was an increase in annual publications since 2000, with 46% published since 2011. Most publications (61%) focused on individual treatment modalities, incidence, or prognosis. Few publications (2.7%) focused on health service delivery, outcomes, and health economics. Observational studies composed 78.5% of publications, 2.4% were randomized controlled trials, and 0.4% used a qualitative approach as their main methodology.


A recent surge in research activity into childhood oSDB has improved the knowledge base for this condition; however, the lack of health services, health economics, and outcomes research impacts the applicability of evidence informing current guidance and leaves important questions for future research.


PROSPERO: registration number CRD42015029291

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