A comparison of two screening tools for paediatric obstructive sleep apnea

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Untreated obstructive sleep apnea in children is associated with significant medical and psychological morbidities. Polysomnographic testing is the gold-standard method for diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. However, laboratory-based polysomnography is expensive and associated with a substantial healthcare burden. Thus, a simple valid tool to accurately identify those at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea is essential. We performed a retrospective cross-sectional study of children referred to the Youthdale Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic. Data were collected from questionnaires and sleep studies reports of 395 children. A comparison between two screening tools for paediatric obstructive sleep apnea – a six-item (parent-response) and an eight-item IF-SLEEPY/IM-SLEEPY scales – was performed. The results showed that 42% of the children (n = 164) were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. The six-item scale (score ≥3) exhibited a sensitivity of 17% and a specificity of 95% for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. The eight-item IF-SLEEPY scale displayed 82% sensitivity and 28% specificity. The IM-SLEEPY scale exhibited 79% sensitivity and 32% specificity. In children ≥7 years old, the IF-SLEEPY (parent-response) had a sensitivity of 82% and specificity of 28% compared with the child-response (66% and 37%, respectively). Logistic regression analysis revealed that age (odds ratio = 0.78), IF-SLEEPY/IM-SLEEPY score ≥3 (odds ratio = 1.78) and a score ≥2.72 on the six-item scale (odds ratio = 4.54) were predictors of obstructive sleep apnea. This study suggests that the eight-item scale is a better screening tool for paediatric obstructive sleep apnea, with a higher sensitivity and simple yes/no responses that are easy to complete and to score.

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