Skip to main content

Sleep apnea affects over 50% of children with Down syndrome, and over 80% of adults with Down syndrome, compared to an estimate of 5-10% in the general population. Untreated sleep apnea can affect behavior and cardiovascular health, slower cognitive development, and accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.


Sleep apnea affects 60-80% of individuals with DS compared to 5% in the general population and untreated sleep apnea can affect behavior and cardiovascular health, slower cognitive development, and accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Per a recent LuMind IDSC caregiver survey, only 17% diagnosed with sleep apnea fully benefit from a CPAP mask. Many are not aware of alternative treatment approaches such as hypoglossal stimulation. Also, a diagnosis of sleep apnea through a hospital overnight stay sleep study (polysomnogram) is very cumbersome for people with Down syndrome and alternative solutions are needed.

Down syndrome sleep apnea


  • MOSAIC: sleep apnea study for children by the University of Arizona, for families in driving distance of Tucson, AZ. This study will investigate the use a combination of atomoxetine (a medication approved by the FDA in children for the treatment of ADHD) and oxybutynin (a medication approved by the FDA in children for overactive bladder). These medications, which have been shown to treat obstructive sleep apnea in a small study of adults without Down syndrome, are thought to treat obstructive sleep apnea by increasing airway muscle strength, which is known to be lower in children with Down syndrome. If you would like more information about the study, please contact Silvia Lopez at [email protected] for further information.
  • Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator Clinical Trial: Sleep Apnea study led by Mass General Hospital and taking place at several sites across the country. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Eye and Ear are studying new ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea in children and young adults with Down syndrome who have persistent obstructive sleep apnea despite prior tonsillectomy. They are researching how placement of an investigational surgically implanted nerve stimulator for the purpose of treating severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) improves the neurocognition and expressive language skills in children with Down syndrome, ages 10-21.  If you are interested in learning more about this study, and whether or not you/your child would be an appropriate candidate, please contact the research team by calling Dr. Hartnick at (617) 573-4206 or by email at [email protected].


Sleep apnea disproportionately affects the Down syndrome population (at least 10x more frequent) and, due to the inconvenience and challenges of overnight sleep studies, many individuals with Down syndrome go undiagnosed for years despite the consequences for their health.

LuMind IDSC funded studies have shown that verbal IQ was 9 points lower in children with OSAS and Down syndrome, who also showed executive function deficits.

Treatment options such as CPAP only benefit a portion of those diagnosed with sleep apnea and most are not aware of the alternative treatment options. Improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea in Down syndrome are dearly needed and LuMind IDSC is supporting and/or developing solutions for both.

Sleep Apnea and Down Syndrome, LuMind IDSC Foundation


Sleep Apnea and Down Syndrome, LuMind IDSC FoundationResearch SpotlightResearch NewsSleep Apnea
March 29, 2023

Important progress in the treatment of sleep apnea and Down syndrome

At the end of March, the US Food & Drug Administration approved Inspire’s Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator for children with Down Syndrome and significant sleep apnea who are 13 years and…
Reading 637834678437240740 2Conexión en EspañolSleep Apnea
July 18, 2022

Ocho Consejos Para Fomentar Hábitos Saludables Para Dormir Para Las Personas Con Síndrome de Down

A veces, conciliar el sueño y lograr descansar durante la noche no es tan fácil como quisiéramos. En algunos casos, la falta de sueño puede ser asistida al modificar ciertas rutinas…
Sleep Apnea and Down Syndrome, LuMind IDSC FoundationCommunity SpotlightSleep Apnea
March 22, 2022

Chronic Sleep Conditions and Down Syndrome

Every night, a large percentage of the population with Down syndrome struggle to fall asleep. When they do, they might struggle to achieve healthy and restful sleep. In this blog,…