Because it's potentially life threatening in children and babies, the
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
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
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
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
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.