Prof. receives funding to study an orthopedic intervention for sleep apnea in children

May 1, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Pliska, assistant professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, received funding to study a non-surgical treatment— maxillary expansion (ME)—in children with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), a serious medical condition that affects an estimated 1.2 to 5.7 percent of children.

OSAS is a multifactorial disease, with the primary cause in children thought to be hypertrophic tonsils and adenoids. A common treatment is an adenotonsillectomy, a surgical procedure to remove these tissues. However, Pliska points out, recent data indicates that as many as 29 percent of children have residual obstructive sleep apnea following surgery. “While we know that craniofacial proportions play a role in OSAS and in the incomplete resolution of the disease following surgery, the exact nature of this relationship remains to be characterized,” Pliska says.

To better understand the influence of craniofacial morphology and a possible orthodontic intervention for OSAS, Pliska received the 2013 Fred F. Schudy Memorial Research Award—$25,000 for biomedical research—from the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation.

The broad objective of Pliska’s study is to develop a better understanding of the patients most likely to benefit from orthopedic intervention of OSAS, with the long-term goal of improving health outcomes and quality of life for these children.