Three of six siblings presented with sleep apnea between 18 and 26 months of age. Twin females and a male had normal growth and development without antecedent neurologic or apparent metabolic disorder. The females presented at 25 and 27 months respectively with irregular respiration and episodes of apnea. Twin A succumbed to an apneic episode while sleeping. Central sleep apnea was diagnosed in twin B at the Stanford Sleep Clinic. She died following an apneic episode three months after evaluation. The male presented at 18 months with fatal sleep apnea. A fourth child was evaluated for sleep apnea at 7 weeks of age with several hospitalizations before her death at 31 months. She and remaining family members were extensively studied for inherited neurologic disorders including subacute necrotizing encephalomyopathy (SANE, Leigh disease). This family with lethal sleep apnea presents an association with SANE with minimal neurologic signs and symptoms and neuropathologic involvement. Lesions were conined to the respiratory centers of the lower brain stem, making sleep apnea explicable. This child and family members tested positive or borderline for inhibitor substance thiamine triphosphate (TTP). All testing for TTP inhibitor substance was performed in Professor Jack R. Cooper's laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. These cases present an interesting and instructive lesson emphasizing the need for extensive evaluation of children with unsuspected sleep apnea with early demise.
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