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11/10/21blog post

obstructive sleep apnea may affect more than just your child’s sleep

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when a person stops breathing intermittently during sleep. This is usually caused by something obstructing or blocking the airway. OSA causes the body’s oxygen levels to fall and interrupt sleep. This is especially unhealthy for kids because not getting a restful night’s sleep can cause behavior problems, delays in growth and development and potentially heart problems.

A recent study published by the American Heart Association states that obstructive sleep apnea may be impacting kids blood pressure and heart health. “Sleep disruptions due to sleep apnea have the potential to raise blood pressure and are linked with insulin resistance and abnormal lipids, all of which may adversely impact overall cardiovascular health later in life” (American Heart Association).

“Typically when a child sleeps their blood pressure drops, but children with OSA do not have the typical drop in blood pressure while sleeping,” says Samuel Dzodzomenyo, MD, sleep medicine provider at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “This smaller drop in blood pressure levels while sleeping may indicate abnormal blood pressure regulation, which can potentially cause heart problems, especially for kids who are overweight.”

who is at increased risk for OSA?

Children who are overweight, have allergies, low muscle tone, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, craniofacial malformations, and neuromuscular disorders may be at an increased risk for OSA.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Snoring more than three nights a week
  • Making snorting noises or gasping during sleep
  • Sleepiness during the day (sign of a bad night’s sleep, poor quality and fragmented sleep)
  • Headache when waking up

If you think your child may have obstructed sleep apnea, talk with their primary care provider. They will likely refer you to sleep medicine at Dayton Children's, where our board-certified sleep physicians will determine if a sleep study is needed. A sleep study is the best method for diagnosing obstructed sleep apnea. The sleep study will also include a continuous blood pressure monitor.

how is OSA treated?

Children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be referred to a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist to be evaluated for a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy.  

Treatment for OSA may include a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine may significantly lower your child’s blood pressure while sleeping. 

“Although the CPAP machine may be helpful in lowering a child’s blood pressure during sleep, it’s important to recognize that children who are overweight should also develop healthy, active lifestyles,” says Dr. Dzodzomenyo.


For more information about sleep medicine at Dayton Children’s, click here.

Samuel Dzodzomenyo, MD

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