Does Your Child Snore?
Many parents think it’s cute but it is actually dangerous.
Children are not just small adults. They are growing, developing people who will suffer the long term consequences of their bodies and brains not receiving the oxygen that they need for proper growth and development.
The threshold for sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in children is much lower than adults. Episodes during sleep where breathing stops or is reduced for 10 or more seconds is considered an apnea or hypopnea. These events are most accurately measured during overnight sleep studies but are easily recognized by educated and concerned parents. Most pediatric sleep centers view apneas or hypopneas that occur more than once per hour as abnormal.
No child should ever snore. Some parents wrongly believe that if their child snores that means that they are sleeping well. The lack of education on pediatric sleep disordered breathing is an important issue for our society and healthcare system to address.
Below are other diagnostic factors that should be considered.
Does your child have to have apnea to have his growth and development affected?
SDB is believed to have been a relative factor in changes in the production of growth hormone and is also associated with impaired physical growth development. Current research suggests that snoring, even without measurable apneas, is associated with cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial problems.
Children who snore have been shown to have lower scores on learning and memory tests including some types of intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. It is also another factor in issues with childhood obesity and facial development. Studies show that both children and adults with more attractive faces are considered to be more intelligent and successful than those with unattractive smiles and facial development issues related to sleep disordered breathing.
What sleep signs and symptoms should I look for?
There are many indications that your child may be affected by SDB. You should consider having your child evaluated for a sleep related issue if he or she:
- snores or gasp while sleeping
- breathes through their mouth
- has nasal obstruction
- enlarged tonsils or adenoid
- bed wets
- exhibits hyperactivity
- experiences daytime sleepiness
What growth and development signs should I watch for?
A sleep evaluation should be considered if there are any signs of:
- growth and development problems
- attention deficit
- tendency toward obesity
It is important to know that there is a critical period in brain development that determines how a child will perform in school. SDB problems can start at birth and awareness, diagnosis and treatment as early as possible are essential.
From a dental perspective, it’s important to evaluate the pediatric patient for potential SDB problems by screening for:
- high palatal vaults
- crowded teeth
- dental crossbites or severe overbites
- speech disorders (especially lisping)
- children who grind their teeth
From a facial development perspective, important signs that a child might be struggling to move air through their upper airway include:
- development of childhood obesity
- forward head posture
- long faces
- allergic shiners (bags under eyes)
- mouth breathing
What should I do if I suspect a problem?
Share your concerns with your pediatrician, ENT or a dentist trained in treating patients with pediatric sleep disordered breathing.
There is growing concern and awareness of this epidemic problem among our children. In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines for childhood sleep disorders. They recommend “all” children or adolescents who snore regularly be screened for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS). Additional symptoms can include:
- labored breathing during sleep
- disturbed sleep with frequent gasps
- snorts or pauses
- daytime learning problems
For children exhibiting signs of OSAS, it is important to get a comprehensive diagnosis by having an overnight, in-laboratory sleep study done. If left untreated, OSAS can result in problems such as:
- behavioral issues
- cardiovascular problems
- poor growth
- compromised facial development
- neurological developmental delays
If you’d like additional information on Child Growth and Development you can visit the American Academy of Physiological Medicine & Dentistry or to schedule an appointment for your child, please contact our office at 618.281.9729.