Sleep apnea is a very common condition in adults, but did you know it can also affect children and infants too? While not as common, the type that affects children has similar symptoms but often the cause is different. An expert sleep specialist in Jacksonville, FL can tell you whether your child has this condition.

Symptoms and Causes

There are three types of sleep apnea, each with different causes:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by restrictions in the upper airway that may interfere with breathing during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when there are no upper airway restrictions, but the muscles do not receive proper signals to breathe.
  • Mixed apnea is a combination of the two.

Of these, CSA is most common in full-term and larger premature infants. Smaller premature infants are more likely to experience mixed apnea.

Watch for these symptoms if you suspect your baby’s sleep is being disturbed:

  • Long pauses in breathing that last for around 20 seconds or more
  • Repeated pauses in breathing
  • Restless sleep
  • Coughing or choking
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Night terrors

These symptoms are what you should watch for if you suspect your baby might have breathing problems. However, keep in mind that it is normal for newborns and babies under 6 months to have irregular breathing patterns. They may alternate between rapid and slow breaths, with short pauses in between. If you can’t tell if this is sleep apnea, a sleep specialist in Jacksonville, FL can help.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors to consider when it comes to sleep apnea in infants. Some of them include:

  • A family history of sleep apnea: Sleep apnea can run in families, babies can have a higher chance of developing it if the parents also have it.
  • Physical defects: If a baby has any defects in their face, neck, or mouth, they may be at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea.
  • High birth weight: Just like overweight adults, overweight babies may be at risk for developing sleep apnea. Extra fat around the neck can put pressure on the airways, leading to disrupted breathing.
  • Genetic problems: Conditions such as Down Syndrome may also play a part as a risk factor.
  • Preterm birth: Premature babies often have poorly developed respiratory tracts, making them higher risk for sleep apnea.

Long-Term Effects

Untreated sleep apnea can have serious effects on your child. One of these can be the failure to gain weight (referred to as a failure to thrive). Other developmental delays can result from this condition, such as learning to walk or talk later than usual. Growth may also be affected, due to the inability of a baby to stay in deep sleep. Since the human growth hormone is released during sleep and peaks during deep sleep.

Contact a Sleep Specialist Jacksonville FL Residents Can Trust

If you suspect your baby might be suffering from sleep apnea, don’t wait. It is best to consult an expert to determine the best course of action with any medical condition. Contact Jacksonville Sleep Center now to conduct a sleep study for your baby.