Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Some Kids Can’t Get Enough Shuteye

Dr. Richard Kravitz, director of Duke’s Pediatric Sleep Laboratory, recently discussed pediatric sleep apnea on

Dr. Kravitz noted that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, occurs in one to three percent of otherwise healthy children. It prevents a child from getting restful sleep

OSA is most common in children two to seven years of age, but it can also affect infants and adolescents. While the most common cause of OSA in children is enlarged adenoids and tonsils, obesity is an increasingly common culprit. Children with Down syndrome also experience a high risk.

Signs of sleep apnea include loud, frequent snoring and pauses in breath followed by gasps. Dr. Kravitz explained that snoring appears in 10 percent of otherwise healthy children and does not always indicate OSA.

Restless tossing and turning may also reflect sleep troubles.

Untreated OSA can cause physical and behavioral problems including daytime sleepiness, excessive napping, behavior changes, hyperactivity, concentration troubles, poor growth, bedwetting, high blood pressure and cardiac problems.

Diagnosis of sleep apnea takes place at a sleep center. A sleep test will monitor how many times a child stops breathing during sleep. The test also monitors brainwaves, heartbeats, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. These factors provide evidence of airway obstruction.

An article in today’s Chicago Tribune reported on how some hospitals have created sleep centers specifically designed for children’s needs. Many traditional sleep centers also treat children.

Sleep center rooms look similar to bedrooms. A parent is encouraged to spend the night with their child to provide comfort and confirm how closely the night of observed sleep reflected home sleep patterns.

After a diagnosis, there are several treatment options. Weight loss, tonsil removal, continuous positive airway pressure, and oral appliances are several common treatments.

A list of sleep centers is available here.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.