Sleep Apnea and its Effects on Children


Sleep apnea doesn’t discriminate……it affects children too……in fact, two to four percent of children have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is common in children three to six years of age…this coincides with the growth of their tonsils; however, not all children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids have OSA.

Emotional Issues

OSA in children, like adults results in interrupted sleep. This may result in the child being irritable, sleepy, having difficulty concentrating and being hyperactive (acting very busy). These children may also have behavioral problems, moodiness, lack of attention and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Growth and Development

OSA in children can result in delayed development and slow growth. Mechanism Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) can interrupt stage three of sleep (in addition to the other stages). However, it is during stage three sleep that growth hormone is released. So, if there is a disruption in stage three and hence in the levels of growth hormone released, the child’s development will likely be affected.


OSA may also lead to childhood obesity.

1. It can cause one to have an increased resistance to the effects of insulin, which may result in weight gain.

2. OSA can lead to one feeling excessively tired and fatigued during the day. The affected child may not have the energy to exercise, which may result in them becoming overweight.

3. Conversely, it has been shown that the heavy and laboured breathing during apneic episodes can result in an increase in the consumption of calories while asleep which can result in the child being quite thin. In addition, a hyperactive child with ADD may also be thin for this very reason.

In the next blog, we will look at the effect that adenoids and tonsils may have on a child’s nightly breath……until then. Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry, Brampton Dentist

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