Sleep Apnea

Also known as: sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, OSA

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is blocked and interrupted for periods of 5 to 10 seconds or more while sleeping.

What is pediatric obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by repetitive periods of breathing cessation (apneas) or recurring incidences of shallow breathing during sleep.

What are the signs/symptoms?

  • Snoring or loud breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • May awaken frequently throughout the night
  • Enuresis or bedwetting
  • Sleeping in odd positions or with their mouth open
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Frequent respiratory tract infections
  • Changes in personality or development

What causes sleep apnea in children?

The cause of sleep apnea in children is typically an enlargement of the tonsils and/or adenoids. Children with other disorders, such as craniofacial anomalies, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Down Syndrome are at an increased risk for sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed and treated?

At Nicklaus Children’s Sleep Disorders Center, pediatric sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study. In most cases, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in children with obstructive sleep apnea will correct the problem. Positive-pressure ventilation (CPAP) is an alternative to further surgery in children with unresolved obstructive sleep apnea after a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2021 01:59 PM

Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center

An accredited center for the diagnosis, management, and research of sleep disorders in children and adolescents

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Top Warning Signs That Your Child May Have Sleep Apnea

March 16, 2021 – Most people think of obstructive sleep apnea as a condition that impacts adults. Although obstructive sleep apnea is less common in children, it is still a risk that parents should be aware of. Between 1 and 5 percent of children are affected by it, and that it may be underdiagnosed. Dr. Sandeep P. Dave, pediatric otolaryngologist, compiled a list of sleep apnea warning signs for parents to be on the lookout for.

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Enuresis

Primary bedwetting/nocturnal enuresis is the common problem of multiple episodes of wetting the bed, only at night when asleep, over the age of 7 years, who have no history of a urinary tract infection. Learn more

Down Syndrome

Babies with down syndrome have an extra full or partial piece of chromosome 21, this causes a variety of physical abnormalities. It is the commonest chromosomal disorder in the USA. Learn more

Obesity

Growing children and adolescents normally gain weight and height each year and the path that they follow is measured by weight and height charts (growth charts) which define the normal range for each age and sex. The Body Mass Index (BMI) takes into account whether a child’s weight falls within the normal range taking into account his/her height, age and sex. While there a number of ways to define obesity, the BMI is widely used to measure obesity (a BMI greater than the normal range for age, sex and height). Learn more

Circadian Rhythm Disorders (CRD)

Most frequently this refers to disruptions to sleep caused by interruptions to typical sleep patterns. Learn more

PSG Sleep Study

The PSG sleep study, or polysomnography, is a standard sleep study used to identify sleep disorders. Learn more

Positive-Pressure Ventilation (CPAP)

Positive-pressure ventilation or CPAP is a safe and effective breathing treatment to keep the the child’s air tubes open during breathing. Learn more