Sleep disorders

Sleep apnea in children – what is it?

This disorder is a violation of breathing and is manifested by snoring in a child and the appearance of stops in his breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups of children, from newborns to teenagers. The peak incidence occurs at the age of 2-8 years.

In premature babies, the risk of this disorder is significantly higher (3-5 times) than in full-term babies, which is explained by the insufficient development of the parts of the brain and spinal cord that control the respiratory process.

Causes of the disorder

The reasons for holding or stopping breathing in a dream in children can be:

  • hypertrophy of the tonsils;
  • increased resistance in the nasal region (displacement of the nasal septum, choanal stenosis);
  • hereditary diseases (Down syndrome);
  • obesity;
  • swelling of the nasopharynx of inflammatory origin;
  • hypotension;
  • chronic runny nose.

Why is this condition dangerous?

Intermittent breathing during sleep in a child leads to a disruption in the structure of night sleep, which is manifested by specific symptoms. The baby’s sleep becomes restless, interrupted by frequent awakenings. Sleep apnea in children is often accompanied by enuresis. The child is constantly naughty, becomes less obedient, sometimes others note the inadequacy of his actions, the appearance of emotional disorders. Such children complain of fatigue, they have reduced school performance. In some cases, growth retardation may occur due to a lack of growth hormone production, which is formed mainly at night.


Effective treatment of childhood sleep apnea requires its early diagnosis and accurate identification of the causes. Timely therapy prevents the transition of functional changes into organic ones, which means that it can lead to a regression of symptoms.

Apnea in newborns and premature babies requires special attention; treatment of a child at this age has its own specifics, and it is recommended to be carried out in specialized sleep centers and clinics. The Center for Sleep Medicine at the Rehabilitation Clinic in Khamovniki has developed and adapted special programs for the treatment of sleep apnea.

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