Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Duke Medicine: Obstructive sleep apnea in children

Posted April 11, 2011 7:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2011 8:38 p.m. EDT

As parents, we consider nothing more important than the health and well-being of our children. We make sure they eat well, get their checkups, are immunized to prevent serious illnesses, and see a doctor when they are sick. Yet many parents are unaware that problems may occur at a time they least expect -- while their children are asleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, occurs in 1 to 3 percent of otherwise healthy children.

While long recognized in adults, OSA has only recently been recognized as a significant problem for children.

Children with OSA frequently snore and may have difficulty breathing while asleep. They may have pauses in their breathing (called apneas), which can be followed by a sudden gasping for air. Their sleep can be restless, with tossing and turning, and they may sleep in unusual or contorted positions in an attempt to open up their blocked airway.

If left untreated, children are at risk for many physical as well as behavioral problems.

Duke Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine offers a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders in children. A new two-bed sleep lab has just opened in Raleigh making pediatric sleep studies for patients in Wake County more convenient.

For appointments call 919-668-4000.

Read more about pediatric sleep apnea on