Prevention Of Sleep Apnea Risks

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Because it's potentially life threatening in children and babies, the prevention of sleep apnea risks , early diagnosis and medical solutions (monitor, CPAP, surgery, etc.) are crucial.

Strictly speaking, the term 'apnea' means nothing more than 'breathing pause'. All healthy kids, and especially young babies, have these breathing pauses normally.

It's when the pauses become long (+20 seconds for a baby, +10 seconds for a child) that it becomes a condition that can be life threatening and/or cause severe health problems.

In most cases, sleep apnea - the condition - cannot be prevented as it is a physical condition: brain signal failure in central and airway blocking in obstructive sleep apnea.

The main action step is in preventing the too long breathing pauses in order to reduce the risks they create.


The risks of severe apnea in babies include death and lasting heart or brain damage. Very poor night and nap quality is a less serious effect but it can lead to health problems too, and of course make your baby uncomfortable, cranky and irritable.

Severe apnea in children and toddlers of 2 years and older can cause developmental and growth problems as well as heart problems. Learning difficulties and behavioral problems such as frustration, aggressiveness, anxiety and social difficulties are also common.

Prevention of Sleep Apnea Risks

Early diagnosis is the key in preventing the most risks. If your baby or child shows any of the symptoms and signs , do not hesitate and consult your doctor right away.

Ideally a specialized pediatric center will perform a sleep study or take an overnight polysomnography to confirm the apnea or rule it out.

Once diagnosed, the best-suited of the different treatments and solutions must be selected. Available solutions include an apnea or breathing monitor, medication, a CPAP machine and in +2 year olds tonsil surgery.

There is some controversy about a possible link with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers have not shown a conclusive link (SIDS remains unexplained, contrary to sleep apnea).

Still as a general measure crib safety guidelines remain crucial: starting with a well-aired, a not too hot not too cold room and a safe crib or bed.

Being overweight can also be a factor so losing weight can be part of the prevention of sleep apnea.

Also consult your pediatrician for more advice and preventative measures.

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.