Some 15 to 20 per cent of students in Delhi’s private schools are suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in comparison to only two per cent students in government schools, an ongoing study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has revealed.
The study — whose first phase has been completed with over 7,000 students examined — is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The age group examined as part of the study is 10-17 years.
“We are doing a study whose findings are very dramatic and it reveals that in the government schools we hardly see OSA. However, in private schools we see huge presence of OSA in the students. It is an ongoing study but the data found in the first phase is so startling that we want to know what will be the result after the completion of the study,” said AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria.
Sleep apnea is caused by recurrent episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep. Several risk factors, including obesity, male sex, age and heridity, have been associated with an increased prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in the general population.
Among these, obesity is one of the strongest sleep apnea risk factors (12-15 years). Mild to moderate obesity has been associated with markedly increased sleep apnea prevalence.
As of now, the study has been conducted in 13-14 schools including Father Agnel School and Delhi Public School R.K. Puram among others, and has found that the OSA rate is around 15-20 per cent in students of private schools.
“The data we have gathered is from 13-14 schools. We will continue the study and see,” said Guleria.
Stating that there were several difficulties in screening the children, Guleria said that several parents refused to get their children screened claiming that they did not have any problem.
Under the project, the organisers aim to cover the entire National Capital Region, however as of now only South Delhi has been covered.
Speaking on the causes behind the high presence of OSA among the students of private students, Guleria told IANS: “Students in private schools have a poor diet, lifestyle in comparison to students in government schools. Data also shows that government school students have more physical activities such as walking.”
Guleria said that despite HRD ministry’s directive to schools to participate in the study, several schools did not cooperate.
Commenting on the study which is in its third year, Saumya Swaminathan, Director General of ICMR, stated that OSA presence in school children is quite disturbing and there is need for them to improve their lifestyle.
Another study was also being carried on simultaneously, which was on air pollution. Tests such as Lung Function Test among others are being performed.