Sleep apnea is often present in people with a certain body type, those with short, thick necks. A propensity for obesity is also often present. If a child inherits these characteristics, of course there is a possibility of getting apnea.
The most common age for this is from two to six years but it does continue through or strike children right into adolescence and even into the older teen years. It's characterized by the usual symptoms - loud snoring, cessation of breathing during sleep, restless sleep - but may also cause, because of sleep deprivation, poor performance in school, both in academics and other activities, such as sports.
Researchers at the University of Virginia examined children from 18 months to 18 years and discovered that over a third of them were obese and frequently snored. Neck size in these children was larger than that of other study subjects and compared to apnea-hypopnea index and mean oxygen saturation indicated the severity of sleep-brething disorders.
"Children with bigger neck sizes for age should be queried about snoring, apnea, excessive sleepiness, and hyperactivity. Neck size should be considered in the clinical evaluation of children with a history of snoring and apnea," study author Dr. Pearl L. Yu said in a prepared statement.
It's believed that sleep apnea occurs in at least two percent of young children. Any age is susceptible, but sleep apnea is most likely to strike at preschoolers. Possible causes are enlarged tonsils and adenoids and obesity.Untreated sleep apnea can stunt a child's growth and lead to other problems, including high blood pressure.
To help prevent obesity that can lead to sleep apnea in children, keep your youngsters on a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Avoid the fast food restaurants or visit them only as a special treat such as a birthday.
Limit TV time. Insist on several hours of healthy outdoor play every week. Ask your doctor about enlarged tonsils and adenoids and the advantages of having them removed.
Obesity is hard on the health and the situation is more than doubled if the excess weight leads to sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor performance at school, irritability and mood swings. Remember, an active, healthy child is a happy child.