Pilot Study: Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Beneficial Effects on Fatty Liver Disease in Children

Briefly noted: A small pilot study (n=9) (SS Sundaram et al. J Pediatr 2018; 198: 67-75) showed that treatment (with home CPAP) of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was associated with improved alanine aminotransferase levels, reduced metabolic syndrome markers and lower F(2)-isoprostanes (a marker of oxidative stress) in pediatric patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). All nine of the participants were Hispanic males with a median age of 11.5 years; they had a median BMI of 29.5 and had biopsy-proven NAFLD. The improvement in NAFLD parameters occurred despite an increase in BMI. The authors note that studies in adults have shown contradictory findings with regard to whether treatment of OSA helps NAFLD.

My take: This study suggests potential beneficial liver effects of treating OSA.  Regardless, treatment of OSA could be considered a quality metric in the care of children with NAFLD as better sleep at night has additional clear benefits.

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