It’s a problem long thought to be a disorder of older, overweight men. But in fact, sleep apnea is becoming more common among children and adolescents. At the Sleep Disorders Center at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, increasing numbers of patients treated are children.
Obesity, Children & Sleep Apnea:
Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation. The more sleep-deprived a child becomes, the less active he or she is likely to be. As physical activity diminishes, weight gain becomes more likely.
The alarming trend of childhood obesity in the U.S. is likely to result in an increase in the number of children diagnosed with sleep apnea. According to the American Obesity Association, more than 30% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight, and 15% are obese. Similar statistics apply to adolescents age 12 to 19.
In today’s technologically advanced world, children are more likely to sit at a computer or to play video games for three or more hours each day, rather than participating in physical activities. They're also more likely to forego the necessary 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night in favor of computer use and video games.
Aside from weight gain, one of the most common causes for sleep apnea among children is enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. A timely diagnosis is necessary to prevent a more serious problem. Night after night of poor sleep can lead to poor school performance, behavioral issues, irritability, and difficulty with concentration and attention. These symptoms should be considered whenever a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is being considered.
Treating your child's sleep apnea is important not only for the sake of comfortable sleep, but to minimize the negative impact of other health-related issues, including obstructed breathing and the heart conditions associated with sleep apnea. The Sleep Disorders Center at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center specializes in the assessment and treatment of sleeping disorders for adults and children over the age of 5.