If you have a child prone to “sawing logs” in his or her sleep, it could be worth a mention at your next trip to see the doctor. While it can make for an entertaining YouTube video (or two), snoring in children (and adults, for that matter) might be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The condition, often referred to simply as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, can result in significant health problems, including developmental delays, poor school performance and ADHD.
In a revised clinical practice guideline, “Diagnosis and Management of Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome,” published in the September 2012 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children or adolescents who snore regularly be screened for OSA.
Children with sleep disorders may have additional symptoms such as unusual movements during sleep, headaches, irritability, bedwetting, significant nighttime sweating, labored breathing and hyperactivity.
The AAP recommends that children experiencing these symptoms have “an overnight, in-laboratory sleep study done.”
Pediatric Sleep Specialist Dr. Laura Sterni with the FMH Center for Advanced Sleep Studies and EEG agrees:
“All children should be screened for snoring during well child care visits and children with habitual snoring should be evaluated for OSA,” Sterni says. “A sleep study, or polysomnography, remains the gold standard for diagnosing children with OSAS and we are fortunate to have a sleep center with expertise in studying children here in Frederick.”
If a sleep study shows your child has OSA, both Dr. Sterni and the AAP cite an adenotonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids) as a very effective first line of treatment. For many children, the surgery ends the apnea – and the snoring.
If you’re concerned about your child’s snoring, talking to his or her pediatrician is a great first step. If the doctor thinks a sleep study is necessary, you can visit the sleep lab at FMH, where you can spend the night in a private sleep room with your child as the test is performed.
For more information about OSA in children, visit YourSleep – a website from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine detailing a wide variety of sleep-related conditions and the most common courses of treatment.