Recent data from the American Sleep Apnea Association shows that as many as four percent of American kids have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that is characterized by snoring and pauses in normal breathing patterns during sleep. Sleep apnea in children is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 7, and again during middle school, when kids typically do the most growth compared to height.
In children, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a common cause of apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, where the upper airways collapses during sleep, is on the rise, largely due to the increase in childhood obesity. Some studies have shown that as many as 60 percent of obese children in the United States suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Because we know that sleep apnea is linked to a host of health problems, including heart disease, it is imperative that we diagnose and treat apnea in kids as early as possible.
Signs to watch for include:
- Snoring every night
- Labored breathing
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Waking multiple times throughout the night
- Behavioral problems
- Mood swings
- Emotional sensitivity
- Sore throat upon waking
Snoring should not be ignored. Discuss concerns with your pediatrician, or make an appointment with an ENT if your child snores more than just occasionally.