Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your child’s breathing is partially or completely blocked several times during sleep. The condition is caused by the narrowing or blocking of the upper airways during sleep.
There are differences between pediatric obstructive sleep apnea and adult sleep apnea. While adults are generally sleepy during the day, children are more likely to have behavioral problems. Often the underlying cause in adults is obesity, while in children the most common underlying disease is enlargement of the adenoids and tonsils.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications that can affect children’s growth, cognitive development, and behavior.
During sleep, the signs and symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea can include:
Pauses for breath
Sniffing, coughing, or choking
Sweat at night
Obesity is a common contributor to obstructive sleep apnea in adults. In children, the most common condition that leads to obstructive sleep apnea is an enlarged tonsil and adenoids. However, obesity also plays a role in children. Other underlying factors can include craniofacial abnormalities and neuromuscular disorders.
In addition to obesity, other risk factors for pediatric sleep apnea are:
Skull or facial abnormalities
Sickle cell anemia
Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea can cause serious complications, including: