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Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are predisposed to obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), but the effectiveness and acceptability of continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP) in this group has rarely been formally assessed. This study was designed as a pilot randomised, parallel controlled trial for one month, continuing as an uncontrolled cohort study whereby the control group also received the intervention. Symptomatic, community-dwelling DS individuals exhibiting ≥10 apnoeas/hypopneas per hour in bed on a Type 3 home sleep study were invited to participate in this study, with follow-up at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months from baseline. Measurements of sleepiness, behaviour, cognitive function and general health were undertaken; the primary outcome was a change in the pictorial Epworth Sleepiness Scale (pESS) score. Twenty-eight participants (19 male) were enrolled: age 28 ± 9 year; body mass index 31.5 ± 7.9 kg/m2; 39.6 ± 32.2 apnoeas/hypopneas per hour in bed; pESS 11 ± 6/24. The pilot randomised controlled trial at one month demonstrated no change between the groups. At 12 months, participant (p = 0.001) pESS and Disruptive (p < 0.0001), Anxiety/Antisocial (p = 0.024), and Depressive (p = 0.008) behaviour scores were reduced compared to baseline. Improvement was noted in verbal (p = 0.001) and nonverbal intelligence scores (p = 0.011). General health scores also improved (p = 0.02). At the end of the trial, 19 participants continued on treatment. Use of CPAP in adults with DS and OSA led to a number of significant, sustained improvements in sleepiness and behavioural/emotional outcomes at 12 months.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Sci

Publication Date





adults, cognition, cognitive testing in down syndrome, continuous positive airway pressure, developmental behaviour checklist-adults, down syndrome, obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, pilot randomised controlled trial