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Snoring Kids Should Be Screened for Sleep Apnea

October 18, 2012

New guidelines issued by American Academy of Pediatrics also urge weight loss for obese snorers.

A new set of practice guidelines for pediatric sleep were released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) last month.

Pediatric sleep experts focused on children with a condition known as uncomplicated obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing is interrupted during sleep and is related to enlarged tonsils or obesity.  It is a condition the AAP says affects 1.2 to 5.7 percent of American children.

“I think it’s important to screen these kids because there are many medical and behavioral problems associated with untreated obstructive sleep apnea, explains Dr. Ramez Awwad, Board Certified Otolaryngologist and Sleep Medicine doctor at Capital Region Ear, Nose & Throat and Sleep Wake. “Adults with untreated obstructive sleep apnea tend to complain of excessive daytime sleepiness, however, this is not always the case in children.”

Their recommendations include screening for snoring at all routine health visits for children and adolescents, sleep testing for suspected apnea, and that any child with obstructive sleep apnea and enlarged tonsils should be referred to a surgeon to consider tonsil removal surgery.

The last set of guidelines for pediatric sleep apnea was released in 2002. The changes reflected in these new guidelines were made in light of research over the past 10 years that has suggested that delayed diagnosis of childhood sleep apnea “can result in severe complications if left untreated,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics report.

“Oftentimes, children tend to have problems with hyperactivity, poor concentration, and behavioral problems in school.  Some studies even suggest that as many as 25 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may actually have obstructive sleep apnea.   Bedwetting, failure to thrive, sleep walking, and obesity have all been linked to obstructive sleep apnea,” notes Dr. Awwad.

With these new guidelines, the AAP hopes that more cases of childhood sleep apnea will be diagnosed sooner and children will receive the proper treatments earlier to prevent these dangerous long-term effects.

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