New sleep apnea recommendations for kids

August 27, 2012 1:39:31 PM PDT
New recommendations say every child who snores should be evaluated for sleep apnea.

These new guidelines are technically for doctors, but there's an important message for parents.

If your child snores, or has other signs of interrupted sleep or breathing, you have to bring that up with your pediatrician.

Sleep disturbances are common in children and if left untreated can lead to significant health problems, researchers say.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends all children or adolescents who snore regularly be screened for sleep apnea.

"Sleep apnea is a condition where there is throughout the night a collapse of the upper airway, so essentially, you stop breathing multiple times while you're sleeping- even if you're not aware of it," Dr. Charles Bae, Cleveland Clinic, said.

Besides snoring, kids with sleep apnea syndrome may have disturbed sleep or breathing with frequent gasps, snorts, or pauses.

They may also have daytime sleepiness or learning problems.

Research has shown that sleep apnea can cause behavioral issues, heart problems, poor growth and developmental delays.

So if your child has any of the symptoms, the new guidelines recommend a comprehensive diagnosis in an overnight sleep lab.

"It's important to treat sleep apnea. If someone is tired or if they're snoring and someone says they stop breathing, it's important to tell your doctor about this because sleep apnea is a treatable condition," Dr. Bae said.

The treatment may include removal of the tonsils, a mask that can help keep the airway open at night, or a steroid nose spray to reduce inflammation.

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