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Updated: Aug 24, 2022

If your child snores, sleeps with his or her mouth open, has a poor attention span, and/or exhibits behavioral problems, he or she may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

Most children don't snore, so if your child does, think about talking to your doctor to see if there might be an issue. Sleep apnea affects at least 2 to 3% of children, and it affects as many as 10 to 20% of children who snore.

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax too much, partially or completely blocking the airway. As a result, the child's breathing may stop and start during sleep. The breathing interruptions, which generally last between 10 and 20 seconds, may occur anywhere from five to more than 30 times every hour.

Your child's brain awakens every time he or she stops breathing, even for a few seconds. As a result, they get very little quality sleep, which makes them very tired and cranky during the day. These factors can contribute to poor growth and other health issues.

sleep apnea, sleep disorders in kids

Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes moments of blocked airways when sleeping. While this is typically diagnosed in adults, it often starts in childhood. In fact, many pediatric airway disorders, such as sleep-disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea, can be treated and even prevented.

If your child snores or sleeps with their mouth open, that could be a sign of trouble to come. Both are signs of sleep-disordered breathing which can have long-term impacts on your child throughout their life.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. The disorder results in decreased oxygen in the blood and can briefly awaken sleepers throughout the night.

Sleep-disordered breathing in children can often lead to Obstructive-Sleep Apnea (OSA) in adults. Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • High blood pressure or stroke

  • Heart attack or sudden death

  • Diabetes and obesity

  • GERD or acid reflux

  • Lower immunity levels

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Brain fog or senility

  • Accelerated aging

  • Chronic pain

  • Daytime sleepiness

As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.

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