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sleep apnea in kids


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common, but potentially serious form of Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). People commonly think that OSA only occurs in older adults, but that’s not true! Children can suffer from OSA, and the symptoms go beyond loud snoring. All ages, body shapes and sizes can suffer from OSA without ever knowing it. It’s estimated that 90% of those who have OSA have never been diagnosed. And children will not outgrow OSA and become predisposed to being apneic as an adult.

Devastating effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on children

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a general term for breathing difficulties during sleep ranging from frequent loud breathing or snoring to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a disorder involving repeated episodes of partial to complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep. Every time breathing stops the child’s body perceives a choking phenomenon. Blood oxygen levels fall, the heart rate and blood pressure rise and hormones are released to partially awaken the brain from sleep to signal the body it needs to breathe. Silence from not breathing is often followed by loud gasping, choking or snorting sounds as the child takes a deep enough breath to fight past the obstruction. Once a breath is taken the brain returns to sleep and the process begins once again. Apnea events can occur from a few times to hundreds of times a night depending upon the severity of the condition. Individuals are rarely aware of difficult breathing even after waking. Children suffering from OSA do not know what it is like to experience deep sleep and will not be able to tell you they didn’t sleep well.

Some Pediatric OSA symptoms may surprise you!

Does your child breathe loudly or snore during sleep and exhibit some of the other symptoms listed below? They may be one of the millions of children with Sleep Disordered Breathing. Approximately 10% of all children suffer from SDB and about 2-4% of the pediatric population has OSA. While not all people with SDB have OSA, almost everyone with OSA suffers from SDB.

Other symptoms linked to children suffering with OSA.

Bedroom Observations (nighttime):

  • Frequent Bed wetting – even at 9 years and older
  • Habitual mouth breathing
  • Long pauses in breathing
  • Nightmares
  • Agitated sleep or unusual sleeping patterns
  • Difficulty to wake in the morning

Behavioral Problems (daytime):

  • Decreased performance / learning problems in school
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Hyperactivity – sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as ADD/ADHD
  • Irritability and/or aggressiveness
  • Shyness and social withdrawal
  • Daytime sleepiness

Pediatric OSA studies with Orthodontics

There are a number of orthodontic techniques that can help children diagnosed with Pediatric Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). One of them is Rapid Palatal Expansion (RPE). In this sleep medicine study, by widening the palate with orthodontics it significantly reduced the size of adenoids and tonsils in children, allowing for more airflow when they sleep. As an Airway-Aware Orthodontist, I respect and admire Dr. Audrey Yoon’s work in both research and use of this technique to assist children. I too have used palatal expansion for several years now with great success! I encourage you to watch Dr. Yoon’s 2022 study and if your child exhibits any of these breathing symptoms, contact us for a complimentary pediatric sleep screening.

Think your child might be one of the millions who suffer from SDB and OSA?

Long-Term Consequences of OSA

If left untreated, both the fragmented sleep and periods of inadequate oxygen supply that characterize OSA can result in severe long-term complications including:

  • Stunted Growth. A child’s growth hormones are primarily released during deep sleep.
  • Impaired Intelligence / Memory Loss
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Quality of Life / Depression
  • Increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke

There is Good News – Dr. Greenberg can Help!

If your child exhibits symptoms of OSA it is critical they be screened immediately. In many cases, effective treatment of OSA in children can partially to completely reverse the symptoms and long-term consequences, and eliminate adult sleep apnea, provided treatment is administered in a timely fashion.

Dr. Greenberg, being a premier Orthodontist for over 35 years, is acutely attuned with the growth and development of a child’s face and head. He also has airway-specific training and knowledge making him uniquely qualified to screen your child and recognize sleep-disordered breathing symptoms.

Dr. Greenberg believes OSA is so detrimental to the development and long-term health of your child that he offers a Complimentary Screening.

RxSmile’s SDB screening includes:

  • 3-D airway scan
  • Clinical examination
  • Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire VIEW/DOWNLOAD PDF >
  • Recommend what to do “next”

Dr. Greenberg works in conjunction with other SDB Physicians to formulate and conduct OSA treatment options. If OSA is confirmed via a sleep study (polysomnogram) from a certified sleep physician, Dr. Greenberg can work with that SDB Physician to formulate and coordinate a treatment plan, which may include orthodonture or surgery through other physicians (as required). Treatment options vary and are unique to each patient. However, since children are still growing with malleable airways and cranial-facial structures, positive remediation of Pediatric OSA is very high.

Schedule a Complimentary Sleep Screening for your child today!

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