Auto-adjusting positive airway pressure in children with sickle cell anemia: results of a phase I randomized controlled trial.


Low nocturnal oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) is implicated in complications of Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA). Twenty-four children with SCA were randomized to receive overnight auto-adjusting continuous positive airway pressure (auto-CPAP) with supplemental oxygen, if required, to maintain SpO(2) >or=94% or as controls. We assessed adherence, safety, sleep parameters, cognition and pain. Twelve participants randomized to auto-CPAP (3 with oxygen) showed improvement in Apnea/Hypopnea Index (p<0.001), average desaturation events >3%/hour (p=0.02), mean nocturnal SpO(2) (p=0.02) and cognition. Primary efficacy endpoint (Processing Speed Index) showed no group differences (p=0.67), but a second measure of processing speed and attention (Cancellation) improved in those receiving treatment (p=0.01). No bone marrow suppression, rebound pain or serious adverse event resulting from auto-CPAP use was observed. Six weeks of auto-CPAP therapy is feasible and safe in children with SCA, significantly improving sleep-related breathing disorders and at least one aspect of cognition.