Reduced Tongue Mobility: An Unrecognized Risk Factor of Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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AbstractStudy Objectives:
Childhood obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an important and prevalent disease. A short lingual frenulum is a risk factor for OSA, but whether tongue mobility also plays a role in OSA etiology remains unknown. This study aimed to examine tongue mobility in children with and without OSA. We hypothesized that reduced tongue mobility was associated with OSA. We also evaluated the relationship between tongue mobility and craniofacial profile.
This was a cross-sectional case-control study. Prepubertal Chinese children aged 5–12 years, suspected to have OSA were recruited from our sleep disorder clinic. All subjects underwent overnight polysomnography. The lingual frenulum was evaluated based on tongue mobility and free tongue length. Craniofacial measurements were assessed by lateral cephalometry.
Eighty-two subjects (mean age: 8.32 ± 1.70 years, 57 males) were recruited. The mean tongue mobility was 58.2 (±19)% and 67.4 (±15)% (p = 0.019) in subjects with and without OSA, respectively. Tongue mobility was inversely correlated with OAHI (r = −0.218, p = 0.049). In multivariate logistic regression, low tongue mobility was independently associated with a higher risk of OSA after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index z-score, presence of large tonsils and turbinates, and nocturnal oral breathing (odds ratio = 3.65, 95% CI = 1.22 to 11.8). Tongue mobility was found to correlate with the cranial base angle (Ba-S-N) (r = 0.262, p = 0.018), which determines the relative position of the mandible.
In prepubertal children, reduced tongue mobility is associated with the occurrence and severity of OSA. Assessing tongue mobility is recommended in childhood OSA management.
Acceptance Date25/08/2021
All Author(s) ListHoi Man Yuen, Chun Ting Au, Winnie Chiu Wing Chu, Albert Martin Li, Kate Ching-Ching Chan
Journal nameSLEEP
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordsobstructive sleep apnoea; paediatric; tongue

Last updated on 2021-24-11 at 23:24