How prevalent is sleep apnea in children?

This question was asked in Lake Alfred, Florida on 02/27/2013.
How prevalent is sleep apnea in children? I think that my 7 year old son may have sleep apnea. We are thinking about getting him tested.

Doctors Answers (5)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

Sleep apnea in children is actually more common than people realize and is not always easy for parents to recognize. There are two primary types of pediatric sleep apnea - Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). CSA happens when the body's systems that regulate breathing don't work correctly because they are either underdeveloped or ineffective. Central Sleep Apnea is often seen in newborns and babies under nine months old. Most often, as babies grow and develop, their systems mature and they often outgrow their symptoms. OSA usually occurs in older babies, toddlers and young children. Research studies indicate that between 1% and 3% of preschoolers may suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Your best bet is to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician and look into seeking care from a qualified sleep specialist.

Daron Scherr, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/5/2013 1

In ALL children with no reason to seek medical assistance, the incidence is 2%.

In children with any health problems, the incidence skyrockets.

If your child has snoring, behavior issues, sleeping or sleepiness issues, school difficulties, or ADD; I strongly recommend a polysomnography.

Susan M. Welch
Answered on: 2/28/2013

Statistically, I don't have an exact number. However, in my dental practice I'm looking at the child's face growth (lower jaw can be delayed in growth because of open mouth breathing), their eyes (for venous pooling under the eyes), I ask about bedwetting, attention during the day (children can be mis-diagnosed with ADHD that have obstructive sleep issues), snoring, grinding their teeth, issues with allergies, mouth breathing, cognitive delay or learning issues, and if the parent witnessed the child gasping for breath, or observation/listening to their child stop breathing. I visualize the tongue, throat (tonsil size), I watch the child for mouth breathing, and I hold each nostril closed, as the child breathes out of the nose, each side, fogging up the mirror (I call it the "blowing boogers on my mirror test"...all the while asking questions and listen to the parents answers. In my education process, I am taught that even ONE apneic episode in an hour warrants a sleep study, and that is what I advise my parents at the child's dental appointment. If you have other questions, please ask.

Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., FRCSC
Answered on: 2/28/2013

Sleep Apnea is prevalent in children especially those children who have enlarged adenoids and tonsils, or significant blockage of their nasal passageways. If your child appears to have less energy than other children in the same age group, snores very loudly with witnessed episodes of apnea, then you should have your child evaluated for possible sleep apnea.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 2/28/2013

Prevalence ranges from 1 to 4% of children exhibit signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Bed-wetting, sleep-walking, retarded growth, hormonal and metabolic problems and failure to thrive can be related to sleep apnea. Consult your pediatrician because removal of the tonsils and adenoids may be all that is needed. If you have any concerns, then have your son tested. Further information and support group information can be obtained from the American Sleep Apnea Association.