Children Can Suffer From Sleep Apnea Too

child with sleep apnea

When thinking of sleep apnea, you are likely to think of the typical stereotype of a sleep apnea sufferer, a middle-aged overweight male. It is unlikely that you would associate sleep apnea with children. However, it is more common than you might think. It is estimated that 1 to 4% of children between the ages of 2 and 8 suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

Studies have suggested that as many as 25% of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHA) may actually be suffering from sleep apnea. Difficulty learning and behavior problems can be a result of broken sleep or lack of a full night’s rest.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea in children are:

While there is the possibility that a child will “outgrow” their sleep apnea, the effects can wreak havoc on their brains and their bodies. Executive functions such as reasoning, memory, attention, self-monitoring and regulation, and organization are all effected when a child doesn’t get enough sleep. There is also a strong connection between pediatric sleep apnea and childhood obesity. A good, restorative sleep is as important in preventing childhood obesity as diet and exercise.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a pediatrician that specializes in pediatric sleep disorders. Diagnosis for children is the same as adults, a sleep study. While an overnight stay in a sleep lab can be scary for a child, there is not enough data to support “at-home” sleep studies. Some sleep labs may perform “nap studies”. However, most people do not enter REM sleep during a nap (when sleep apnea occurs), nap studies are less useful and could be misleading.

The most common treatment for pediatric sleep apnea is removal of the adenoids, which can reduce symptoms of sleep apnea in 70 to 90% of cases. However, if surgery does not correct the disorder, a CPAP machine may be recommended.

The doctors and staff at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Institute will do everything to make your child comfortable during their sleep study. For more information, on pediatric sleep apnea, visit our patient education library or schedule your appointment today by calling 8154777350. Let’s get your child on the way to a good night’s rest.

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