With sleep apnea, the child stops breathing for a short period. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids block the child’s airway. When breathing stops for 10 or more seconds, the brain takes over and restarts the breathing. Usually, the child snorts or snores loudly.
A doctor said, “Snoring should not be viewed as a normal feature of sleeping children.” About 1 percent to 9 percent of infants and toddlers snore most of the time. And 3 percent to 5 percent of children aged 9 to 14 usually snore.
There are good reasons to take the child to a pediatrician. The snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea. Problems of behavior and learning may occur. Heavier children and black children are more likely to be affected. The condition may be mistaken for attention deficit disorder (A.D.H.D).
Sleep apnea may cause long-term problems if left untreated. Brain development, memory, ability to learn and I.Q. may be affected. Untreated children may become more easily frustrated.
Parents should ask themselves:
- Does your child stop breathing while asleep?
- Does your child struggle to breathe while sleeping?
- Do you ever shake your child to make him breathe while asleep?
- How often does your child snore?
- How loudly does your child snore?
The condition should be treated.
Surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids is most often used to treat sleep apnea in children. Milder cases may respond to a nasal spray. There are medications that can be taken.
Obese children may still have the problem even after surgery. They may need to use a mask attached to a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine to help keep their airways open during sleep.
Look for the signs. Talk to your pediatrician.
Source: The New York Times July 27, 2015