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Childhood obstructive sleep apnea and speech and language development

A very timely systematic review and synthesis (Mohammed D, et al., Sleep Med. 2021 May;81:144-153. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2021.02.015) has just been completed on the current data fund concerning speech and language outcomes in children with obstructive sleep apnea, and more broadly, sleep-disordered breathing.

This was a comprehensive literature search undertaken at the University of Sydney across 5 databases. Studies were selected from peer-reviewed research in English published between 2000 and 2020, concerning children aged 2-13 years.

Studies were appraised using the PEDro-P tool, and the overall certainty of evidence was validated against the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) rubric. Six studies met the current review selection criteria: one paper examined speech outcomes, and the remaining five examined receptive and expressive language outcomes. The overall quality of the body of evidence was rated as very low, with methodological weaknesses present in study designs and sample sizes.

The conclusion in general was that speech and language difficulties are common in children with OSA/SDB, and so are neurocognitive and/or neurobehavioral issues. The study’s authors observe that further investigation of specific speech and language skills, which are compromised in this population, is needed to guide clinical practice and decision making, with particular involvement from speech-language pathologists.

MyoNews from BreatheWorksTM is a report on trends and developments in oromyofunctional disorder and therapy. These updates are not intended as diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease or syndrome.

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