Snoring and Sleep Disordered Breathing

Children who regularly snore or have breathing interruptions during sleep often exhibit behavioral problems, such as sleepiness and hyperactivity. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children can range from snoring to severe sleep apnea.

Signs and symptoms of SDB in children include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attention problems
  • Snoring or witnessed apneas

Apnea is a reoccurring episodic loss of breathing during sleep that can last many seconds and cause drops in oxygen. Apnea in children is often caused by enlarged tonsillar and adenoid tissue in the upper airway. It also may be caused by reduced upper-airway muscle tone and obesity, which may require therapeutic interventions similar to those used in adults. Treatment resolves SDB and helps children get the sleep they need for growth and development.

Multiple studies demonstrate that sleep loss in children results in impaired learning and physical growth retardation. Growth hormone (GH), which is essential for body and brain development, is most active during the deep stages of sleep. Studies of children with SDB indicate that GH is often abnormally low and results in impaired development.

Successful therapy for SDB has been shown to reverse this process by allowing children to return to healthy sleep. Diagnosis of SDB in children often requires specialized sleep testing to accurately define therapy.