Sleep related expiratory obstructive apnea in children

Mark E. Haupt*, Denise M. Goodman, Stephen H. Sheldon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: We describe the respiratory, cardiac, and sleep-related characteristics of two types of sleep-related respiratory pauses in children that can fulfill current criteria of pathological apnea, but often seem to be benign: prolonged expiratory apnea (PEA) and post-sigh central apnea (PSCA). Methods: All outpatient comprehensive overnight polysomnography completed on children without significant underlying medical conditions completed during an 18-month period were retrospectively reviewed for the presence of augmented breaths followed by a respiratory pause. Events were identified as a PEA or PSCA based on characteristic features. Physiologic parameters associated with the respiratory events were recorded and compared. Results: Fifty-seven (29 PEA and 28 PEA) events were identified in 17 patients (8.5 ± 3.5 years old). Median durations of PEA and PSCA were not significantly different. For both PEA and PSCA, average heart rate (HR) during the augmented breath before the respiratory pause differed from lowest instantaneous HR during the first half of the pause. When compared to each other, the lowest instantaneous HR recorded in the first half of PEA was lower than that for PSCA (63.9 [59.41-68.3] vs 66.75 [61.7-80.75]) beats per min, p = 0.03. No PEA or PSCA event was associated with an oxygen desaturation more than 3% from baseline. Conclusion: PEA and PSCA have stereotypic HR changes and resemble pathologic apneas but appear to be benign. Clinical significance of PEA and PSCA is yet to be determined. Consistent recognition of the events is required, given their frequency of occurrence and potential for misclassification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-679
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 15 2012


  • Apnea
  • Exhalation
  • Pediatrics
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep apnea syndromes
  • Sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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