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Key pointsAdults with Down syndrome are predisposed to obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS) due to overlap between the Down syndrome phenotype and OSAHS risk factors.The prevalence of OSAHS in adults with Down syndrome is estimated at 35-42%. This is up to ten-times higher than in the general adult population.Symptoms of OSAHS, including behavioural and emotional disturbances as well as standard symptoms such as sleepiness, should be monitored as part of regular health surveillance in adults with Down syndrome.There is evidence that the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy in adults with Down syndrome and comorbid OSAHS can lead to significant improvements in subjective sleepiness, behaviour and cognitive function, though further large-scale trials are required.Educational aimsTo discuss the relationship between the phenotypic features of Down syndrome and the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS).To examine the prevalence of OSAHS in adults with Down syndrome.To review recent research into the effectiveness of treatment of OSAHS in adults with Down syndrome using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.Obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS) is characterised by repeated cycles of upper airway obstruction during sleep, leading to diurnal symptoms. Individuals with Down syndrome are predisposed to OSAHS due to overlap between the Down syndrome phenotype and OSAHS risk factors. Recent large studies using subjective and objective measures estimate that OSAHS affects around 40% of adults with Down syndrome, in contrast to 2-4% of the general adult population. The "double-hit" of comorbid Down syndrome and OSAHS may accelerate cognitive decline in adults with Down syndrome. However, with the appropriate care and support, OSAHS can be treated effectively in this group using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, improving daytime function and behaviour. Symptoms of OSAHS should be routinely monitored in this population, with testing and treatment available to all adults with Down syndrome; however, this is not currently commonplace, and health inequalities are evident.

Original publication

DOI

10.1183/20734735.012116

Type

Journal article

Journal

Breathe (Sheffield, England)

Publication Date

12/2016

Volume

12

Pages

e91 - e96

Addresses

Dept of Paediatric Cardiac, Respiratory & Sleep Physiology, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK; Sleep Research Unit, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.