The prevalence of airway problems in children with Down's syndrome
AIM: Airway disorders are common in children with Down's syndrome. We report the findings on airway endoscopy in a birth cohort of children from a well-defined geographical area, in order to estimate true population prevalence of airway problems in children with Down's syndrome.
METHOD: Retrospective case note review over a 20-year period between 1993 and 2013 for all children in Greater Glasgow born with Down's syndrome, identified through the hearing surveillance programme. All children undergoing airway endoscopy under general anaesthesia for investigation of potential airway symptoms (stridor, hoarseness, recurrent croup and difficulties with intubation/extubation) were studied in detail to identify the number with laryngeal, tracheal or bronchial pathology.
RESULTS: All 239 children (F:M=1.15:1) were reviewed. Of these, 39 (16.3%) underwent microlaryngoscopy-bronchoscopy under general anaesthesia for airway symptoms. The main presentations were stridor (9), extubation problems (12) and exacerbations of recurrent croup (7). Thirty-three were found to have at least one airway diagnosis (13.8%) including trachaeobronchomalacia (17), laryngeal cleft (2), laryngomalacia (2), tracheal compression (2), vocal cord paralysis (1), acquired tracheal stenosis (2) and symptomatic subglottic stenosis (14).
CONCLUSION: Laryngo-tracheo-bronchial pathology is much more common in children with Down's syndrome than in the general population, particularly subglottic stenosis and tracheal problems.