Showing 1 ideas for tag "abnormalities"

Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

What causes the structural abnormalities that cause sleep apnea, and how can they be prevented?

It is estimated that up to 28% of the population suffer from sleep apnea, which impairs functioning and reduces quality of life, while increasing risk of accidents and a variety of cardiovascular, metabolic, and neuropsychiatric diseases. A large portion of sleep apnea cases are caused by abnormal oro-nasal-maxillo-mandibular features that result in crowding of the upper airway, making it vulnerable to collapsing or... more »

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition, which causes chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness, as well as cognitive impairments affecting learning, concentration, and memory. Over the long term, it increases many health risks, including accidents, cardiovascular disease, and depression. OSA is characterized by partial, or complete, blockage of the airway during sleep, so that breathing repeatedly pauses or airflow is limited, causing repeated arousals from sleep. It is usually secondary to a narrow, or collapsible, airway due to either 1) obesity or overweight, or 2) abnormal morphology of the mandible or maxilla bones, which crowds facial structures, such as the tongue and nose, narrowing the pharynx. The causes of obesity are already being well studied, but there is relatively little research on the etiology of the structural abnormalities involved in OSA. Abnormalities of facial structure are widespread in the population causing, not only OSA, but also orthodontic problems that require many to get braces or have wisdom teeth extracted, and widespread temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. However, multiple studies have documented that these abnormalities are almost completely absent from populations living a preindustrial, agrarian or forager, lifestyle, making them a “disease of civilization”. In particular, the abnormalities are associated with consumption of a modern diet of processed foods during prenatal, infant, and early childhood development.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

Current evidence implicates three factors in the development of these structural abnormalities: prenatal maternal nutrition (especially vitamin K2 status), breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, and frequency of consumption of tough foods after weaning (which provides exercise to the jaw). We need to form a large cohort and study orthodontic development prospectively from fetal development through mid-childhood, with data on diet, feeding practices, and physiological measures of nutrient status. Measurement methods are available using existing technologies to collect the necessary data on each of these measures. Determining the causes responsible for these structural abnormalities will enable further research to demonstrate effective methods of preventing them. Given that many patients with OSA are rendered so miserable by it that they undergo maxillomandibular advancement surgery to correct it, an expensive procedure with a lengthy recovery period, prevention would be a far better solution. This research will move us a big step closer to a future without sleep apnea and its formidable collection of negative effects on health and functioning.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Bonnie Dixon


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