5 years ago

Pediatric sleep apnea and depressive disorders risk: A population-based 15-year retrospective cohort study

Shaw-Ji Chen, Chieh-Yu Liu, Chun-Hung Chang

by Chun-Hung Chang, Shaw-Ji Chen, Chieh-Yu Liu


Studies have shown a higher risk of depressive disorders in children with sleep apnea than in those without sleep apnea. However, the association between sleep apnea and subsequent depressive disorders in the pediatric population remains undetermined. Thus, this study investigated the risk of depressive disorders among pediatric patients with sleep apnea.


In this study, the population-based National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan was used to identify patients who had first been diagnosed with sleep apnea between 1999 and 2013. Patients with sleep apnea who were younger than 18 years were included in the sleep apnea group. Controls (those without sleep apnea) were matched to patients with sleep apnea at a 1:10 ratio by age, sex, and index year. Patients who had baseline or inherited depressive disorders before the enrollment date were excluded. The two groups were followed up until December 31, 2013. The primary endpoint was the occurrence of one or more depressive disorders.


At the end of this study, 6,237 children had been enrolled, comprising 567 children with sleep apnea and 5,670 children without sleep apnea. During the mean follow-up period of 5.87 years, a total of 77 children (1.23%) developed one or more depressive disorders; 14 (2.46%) from the sleep apnea group and 63 (1.11%) from the control group. Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that children with sleep apnea had a significantly higher risk of depressive disorders (log-rank test, p = 0.002). After adjusting for covariates, the risk of subsequent depressive disorders among children with sleep apnea was still significantly higher (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.25; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.25–4.05; p = 0.006). Moreover, boys with sleep apnea had a significantly higher risk than those without sleep apnea (adjusted HR = 3.77; 95% CI, 1.82–7.54; p < 0.001). Furthermore, in sleep apnea group, children older than 12 years of age had more risk to depression (hazard ratio (HR) = 7.1833, 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.3734 to 21.7411; p = 0.0004).


This study found a significantly higher subsequent risk of depressive disorders in children with sleep apnea, particularly boys and those older than 12 years of age. The study findings strongly suggest that clinicians should provide psychological evaluation and supportive care for children with sleep apnea, in addition to medical treatment.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181430

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