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Volume 15 No. 10
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Pediatric Patients With Rett Syndrome

Kathleen M. Sarber, MD1; Javier J. M. Howard, MD, MPH2; Thomas J. Dye, MD1,3,4; John E. Pascoe, MD1,4; Narong Simakajornboon, MD1,4
1Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; 2University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; 3Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Division of Neurology, Cincinnati, Ohio; 4University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati, Ohio

Study Objectives:

Although respiratory abnormalities occurring during wakefulness are well recognized in patients with Rett syndrome (RS), less has been reported regarding sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in this population. This study aims to characterize the presenting complaints, types and severity of SDB, and treatment modalities of patients with RS and sleep concerns.


Retrospective chart review of pediatric patients with RS referred to our academic tertiary care institution from January 2007 to July 2017.


Thirteen patients were identified, 11 female (84.6%); mean age at polysomnography (PSG) was 10.3 years (standard deviation 4.94). Eleven were white (84.6%), 2 were black (15.4%). The most common presenting symptoms were snoring (10/13, 77%) and witnessed apnea (7/13, 53.8%). On baseline PSG, all patients (100%) exhibited hyperapneas followed by a central apnea during wake. Nine (69.2%) had obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (obstructive apnea-hypopnea index (oAHI) > 1); four had severe OSA (oAHI ≥ 10). One had central sleep apnea (central apnea index > 5) and severe OSA. No patients exhibited hypoventilation on baseline PSG. Mean AHI of all patients was 8.77 ± 8.82 (oAHI 6.51 ± 6.91) events/h. Mean oxyhemoglobin nadir was 88.52 ± 5.6%. Treatment modalities included observation: 5 (38%), acetazolamide: 2 (15%), nasal mometasone: 1 (7.7%), adenotonsillectomy: 3 (23.1%), and positive airway pressure: 2 (15%).


Regarding patients with RS referred to the sleep medicine clinic, snoring and witnessed apneas were the most common presenting complaints. In addition to breathing abnormalities during wake, OSA was very common in our cohort. Further studies are needed to examine the pathogenesis of OSA in RS and relationships between disease genotype and respiratory abnormality phenotype.


Sarber KM, Howard JJM, Dye TJ, Pascoe JE, Simakajornboon N. Sleep-disordered breathing in pediatric patients with rett syndrome. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(10):1451–1457.

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