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Gillette Children’s to Offer Implant to Help Patients with Down Syndrome Sleep Better

October 05, 2023

Gillette Children's patient with down syndrome is seen in aeerodygestive clinic.

Gillette Children's is taking steps to help teens who have Down syndrome and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) sleep better at night. Gillette is set to become the first and only healthcare facility in the Twin Cities metro area to offer the Inspire Implant to improve quality of life for Down syndrome pediatric patients aged 13 and older. Patients are expected to begin receiving the treatment in fall 2023. 

The Inspire Implant offers nerve stimulation technology designed to manage OSA in adolescents with Down Syndrome who are unable to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. While previously only available for adults with Down syndrome, this innovative treatment option gained FDA approval for pediatric patients in March 2023. To be eligible, patients must be between the ages of 13 and 18, with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ranging from 10 to 50 and must be unable to benefit from CPAP therapy. 

Gillette Children's has a well-established history of providing expert care to patients with Down Syndrome, and this new initiative represents a significant advancement in the treatment options available to these individuals. Gillette treats more than 200 patients who may be eligible for the treatment. 

“Up to 70 percent of individuals with Down syndrome suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Over the next five years, as these 13-year-olds grow to the age of 18, about half of them will be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea,” said John Garcia, MD, a sleep medicine expert at Gillette Children’s. “This new treatment option will provide hope and improved quality of life for many of these patients.” 

The Inspire Implant functions by stimulating the tongue to move out of the airway during sleep, effectively preventing the airway obstruction that characterizes OSA. This treatment is particularly crucial for patients with Down syndrome who face unique challenges in managing their sleep disorders. 

Benefits from the implant are likely to include improvements in speech, cognition and school performance, said Micah Berman, MD, a Gillette pediatric otolaryngologist. 

“This achievement is a testament to our mission-driven growth and commitment to providing the best possible care to patients who have Down syndrome,” Berman said. “Gillette Children's is proud to partner with Inspire Medical Systems to offer this life-changing treatment to our patients.” 

This step forward in specialty pediatric care aligns with Gillette Children's mission to transform healthcare for children with bone, brain and movement disorders and will strengthen its Aerodigestive Clinic services.