Wake up to the risks of childhood snoring

Next time you take your child to the pediatrician, you may notice a new question on the doctor’s checklist. He or she may ask you if your child snores.

“That is because snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea,” says Carol Rosen, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “This condition affects about 1 to 6 percent of children, causing breathing trouble at night. Over time, it can cause problems with attention, behavior, learning, growth, blood pressure and even lead to heart problems.”

According to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), any child or teen who snores should undergo a more thorough examination to determine his or her risk for sleep apnea.

Stay alert for signs

“Almost all children with sleep apnea snore, but not every snoring child has sleep apnea,” says Dr. Rosen.

To assess whether your child is at risk and requires further evaluation, the doctor may ask whether your child:

  • Snores at least three nights a week
  • Gasps or snorts during the night
  • Has trouble paying attention
  • Is sleepy during the day
  • Has behavioral problems

“If you notice these symptoms, tell your child’s doctor about them right away,” recommends Dr. Rosen.

Treatment helps your child rest easy

To diagnose sleep apnea, the new AAP guidelines state that your child’s doctor should order a polysomnogram test (overnight sleep and breathing test) or refer you to a specialist. “When your child has testing at a UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital sleep facility, he or she is monitored by sleep technicians who are specially trained to monitor sleep and breathing in children of all ages – even children with complicated medical conditions,” says Dr. Rosen.

Many children with sleep apnea have large tonsils or adenoids. Surgery may be the best treatment option in those cases. Another treatment option is a sleep mask that keeps your child’s airway open with a gentle flow of air during sleep. This therapy is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). It is the most common treatment for adults with sleep apnea and the first line of treatment for children who have already had their tonsils and adenoids removed. For almost all patients, weight loss also can ease symptoms. Some children may benefit from dental treatments.

Our pediatric sleep experts offer the region’s most advanced, child-friendly diagnostic and consult services. Learn more at RainbowBabies.org/Sleep.

Does your child snore?

If you suspect your child might have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor. If he or she has already ordered an overnight sleep study, call 216-844-1301 for more information. To make an appointment with a Pediatric Sleep Center specialist, call 216-844-7700.

What happens during a sleep study?

Download a FREE brochure that answers your questions.

Carol Rosen

Medical Director, Pediatric Sleep Center, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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