Children with Sleep Apnea – Part 2

Possible Causes of Sleep Apnea in Infants

It’s possible that there are different causes for infant sleep apnea.  The infant only needs to stop breathing once an hour during sleep to be diagnosed with sleep apnea.  Medical reasons could be responsible for the sleep apnea. Early diagnosis is therefore very important so that proper treatment can be started.  The possible causes for infant sleep apnea include:

  • Neurological problems
  • Swollen tonsils and adenoids
  • Any kind of lung disease
  • Acid reflux
  • Narrow airway
  • Metabolic diseases

There are three types of sleep apnea in babies. One is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); the other is central sleep apnea (CSA).  The third is a combination of OSA and CSA.  OSA usually occurs if there is a blockage in the back of the infant’s throat. CSA occurs when the brain does not tell the infant to breathe.  If you suspect apnea, have the infant tested in a sleep lab.  Any apnea is serious.

Possible Treatments of Sleep Apnea in Infants

You should have your pediatrician schedule your baby for a sleep study right away.  And until the time of treatment begins you can:

  • Gently wake the baby to restart breathing.
  • Change the baby’s sleeping position.
  • Pick up the baby to get breathing started again.
  • A sleep apnea alarm/monitor can notify you to wake the baby.
  • If the apnea exists, you’ll need to get it treated as soon as possible.

And most babies outgrow the sleep apnea by the age of one year unless large tonsils/adenoids stay very large.  As a parent, you should be very cautious and protective of your child.