Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Children with Sleeping Problems may be Prone to Sleep Disorders Later, Study Suggests

A recent study indicates that one in 10 children under 3 years old has trouble sleeping at night and may be at increased risk for developing a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with age.

The research focused on 359 children between 6 months and 3 years old over a three-year period and found that sleep problems were common, but that parents did not always recognize warning signs such as loud, chronic snoring. Regular snoring is one of the symptoms of OSA, a dangerous sleep disorder that can contribute to an increased risk for health problems including heart attack and stroke.

The study, which was published in January in the journal Pediatrics, suggested that children who had sleep problems at this early stage in life were three to five times more likely to have sleep problems later, which challenges the common belief that most children outgrow sleep disorders.

“The data indicate that sleep problems in children are not an isolated phenomenon,” said Dr. Kelly Byars, a co-author of the study and an associate professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “If you have it early and it’s not remedied, then it’s likely to continue over time.”

Over the course of the study, parents of the children were interviewed when the infants were 6 months old, and then again at 1, 2 and 3 years old. Research showed that about 35 percent of the children who had problems sleeping at the beginning of the study continued having problems more than two years later.

In addition to snoring, other indicators of potential sleep disorders included frequent waking interruptions of sleep in the middle of the night, regular nightmares and regularly taking longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep.

If you believe your child suffers from the symptoms of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, a dentist who specializes in sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment may be able to help. Please contact us to locate a qualified dentist near you.

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posted by Steve at 2:03 PM