Sleep Apnea in Children (Pedo OSA)

kid sleeping with their mouth openIf your child snores and/or breathes through his or her mouth, it could be an indication of a more serious condition such as Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)/ Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA.

Many kids who snore in early childhood are often at a greater risk for developing behavioral disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), now known to be associated with SBD/OSA, and also now known to be a definite symptoms of sleep deprivation in kids.  Obstructed breathing during sleep interrupts neurocognitive development, cellular regeneration and tissue and bone growth that occur during that time.  During this interruption, the brain shifts from deep sleep to light sleep, halting the brain from important restorative functions.

Another health problem clearly known to be associated with snoring, SDB and OSA in childhood is dental malocclusion (crowded teeth and /or incorrect jaw alignment).  Research has shown that during early childhood, open mouth breathing, especially during sleep, tongue thrusting, thumb/pacifier/bottle/finger sucking, having a diet of soft/highly processed foods, along with possible genetic factors, can all contribute to the development of dental malocclusion.  All of these problems can sometimes be treated, prevented, or even reversed if your dentist or pediatrician discovers these risk factors at an early age.

Parents of children with any of these conditions should seek help from a myofunctional therapist, pediatric ENT, sleep specialist and/or dentist trained in craniofacial development.

Below are warning signs that may indicate a child has a sleep disorder:

  • frequently waking at night
  • daytime sleepiness and/or hyperactivity during the day
  • kick their legs during the night
  • diagnosed with ADD/ADHD
  • poor concentration
  • poor performance at school
  • difficulty waking themselves up in the morning
  • difficulty falling asleep at night
  • sleep in unusual positions
  • breathe through their mouth instead of their nose at night
  • wet the bed
  • grind their teeth
  • habitually nap
  • wake up thirsty
  • fall out of bed
  • have nightmares/ night terrors
  • walk and/or talk in their sleep

Knowing the importance sleep play in your child’s development can have a lifelong affect on effect on his/her self esteem, wellness, and ability to reach their full genetic potential.