Like many infants born prematurely, Benn Norris suffers from sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea treatment options for babies are limited, Benn’s mother, Sanchia Norris, employs a unique tactic to rouse her son when his breathing stops during sleep: tickling.
According to a Dec. 28 article in London’s The Daily Mail, a breathing monitor sounds an alarm when Benn’s respiration is interrupted. His mother then responds to restart his breathing.
“I have to stimulate him in some way to wake him up which kickstarts him into breathing again,” Sanchia Norris says in the article. “I either tickle him on the soles of his feet, or under his chin and on his stomach. It is enough to start him breathing again.”
Sleep apnea in premature newborns is often caused by weak or underdeveloped muscles that help maintain an open airway. Most infants with sleep apnea grow out of the condition; however the dangers of sleep apnea are life-threatening.
Treatment for infants with sleep apnea involves attentiveness and physical stimulation, such as the method used by Sanchia Norris. In extreme cases of infant sleep apnea, breathing machines may be used.
Common forms of treatment for adult sleep apnea—such as oral appliances or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices—are not viable options for babies.
If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea symptoms, a dentist who specializes in sleep apnea may be able to help determine the cause of your condition and recommend a safe and effective treatment.
Please contact us to locate a qualified sleep apnea dentist near you.