Abstract: Aim Our objective was to investigate the occurrence of sleep-related breathing disturbances in a large cohort of school-aged children in Southern Italy, and to evaluate the association with anthropometric data and clinical findings of oropharynx and nasal airways.
Study design A two-phase cross-sectional study was conducted with children from schools in Turi, Italy.
Methods A screening phase aimed to identify symptomatic children and clinical data from a cohort of 495 children by a self-administered questionnaire, and an instrumental phase for the definition of sleep-related disorders and clinical analysis of oral status were performed. According to the answers, children were classified into 3 groups: habitual snorers, occasional snorers, and non-snorers. All habitual snoring children underwent a polysomnographic home evaluation, and those with oxygen desaturation index (ODI) > 2 were considered for nocturnal polygraphic monitoring (NPM). Children with apnoea/ hypopnea index (AHI) > 3 received a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS). Moreover, a complete oral examination was performed.
Results A total of 436 questionnaires (response rate: 88.08%) were returned and scored (202 M, 234 F; Mean age ± Standard deviation: 6.2 ± 1.8); 18 children (4%) were identified as habitual snorers, 140 children (32%) were identified as occasional snorers, and 278 children (64%) were identified as non-snorers. The percentage of female children who were habitual snorers was higher than the percentage of male children (4.7% vs.. 3.6%). Habitual snorers had significantly more nighttime symptoms. OSAS was diagnosed in 2 children by NPM. A statistically significant association between snoring, cross-bite, open-bite and increased over-jet was found.
Conclusion Habitual snoring and OSAS are significant problems for children and may be associated with diurnal symptoms. The presence of malocclusion increases the likelihood of sleep-related breathing disturbances.