Child Sleep Apnoea

Do you suspect your child having sleep apnoea? Snoring is common in children. Researchers found 10 – 15% of apparently healthy children snore regularly. Most children who snore are otherwise healthy. However, one out of 4 children with persistent snoring suffers from sleep apnoea. If your child snores regularly, he/she may suffer from sleep apnoea. You should seek medical advice.

Is sleep spnoea serious? Childhood sleep apnoea is a chronic illness. Early in the disease, the child snores regularly during the night. He/she may look completely normal during the day. Childhood sleep apnoea is different from adult sleep apnoea. In particular, children with sleep apnoea often do not have daytime sleepiness. 

Children with sleep apnoea suffer from poor sleep quality and intermittent low blood oxygen level during sleep. In more serious cases, they may suffer from problems at school, behavioural problems, delayed growth, or even heart failure. Some of these symptoms are similar to those described in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In fact, some children with sleep apnoea are misdiagnosed as having ADHD. 

Children with sleep apnoea may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Snore loudly 
  • Stop breathing intermittently during sleep, followed by snorting or gasping 
  • Sleep in abnormal position 
  • Sweat heavily during sleep 
  • Difficult to wake up in the morning 
  • Headache in early morning after waking up 
  • Have difficulty at school or behavioural difficulty 
  • Moody, irritable 
  • Inattention 
  • Have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
  • Daytime sleepiness

How do we diagnose sleep apnoea in children? Overnight sleep test is the most reliable way to diagnose sleep apnoea in children. Sleep test can be done in children of all ages. Your child needs to stay in the hospital for a night. Before bedtime, sleep test technician will put on several measuring wires and belts on your child. These will record brain wave, breathing, heart rhythm, blood oxygen level, etc. The process of sleep test is not painful and will not pose any danger to your child. The sleep test data will be carefully interpreted by a medical specialist, to determine whether your child suffers from sleep apnoea, and to determine the severity of the sleep apnoea. Children with daytime behavioural problem, inattention, or mood instability will be assessed by clinical psychologist.