The coordinator of the Valencian Sleep Unit of Hospital Quirón Valencia, Gonzalo Pin, has warned that sleep apnea in children can negatively affect the cognitive development of children, during the celebration of the IV Conference of Advances in Pediatric Sleep Medicine.
According to Gonzalo Pin, while they sleep, children with apnea may suffer interruptions in their breathing of between 10 and 30 seconds, which would repeat throughout the night. This lack of oxygenation could cause growth alterations, and influence their cognitive development and learning ability, in addition to promoting the development of pathologies such as hypertension.
The lack of oxygenation could cause growth disturbances, and influence their cognitive development and learning ability, in addition to promoting the development of pathologies such as hypertension
The main reason why this disorder occurs is that the disproportion between the size of the vegetations and tonsils and the airway causes difficulties for the air to pass correctly while the child sleeps. The specialist explains that the presence of apnea can also be due to a dysfunction of the airway, even if the tonsils are not very large.
A first indication that can make parents suspect that their child suffers from this disorder is to listen to a snore prolonged when the child is not cold. If this happens, the specialist recommends the parents to consult the pediatrician, because these professionals have questionnaires to identify the possible existence of apnea, whose definitive diagnosis will be confirmed in the sleep units or the otolaryngology department.
Obesity exacerbates the problem
Another of the topics highlighted during the day was childhood obesity and its relationship with sleep problems. In a study conducted by the Valencian Sleep Unit of Hospital Quirón Valencia among obese adolescents, it revealed that around 50% suffered from sleep apnea, and that in many cases neither the affected nor their families knew the problem.
Currently, more than a quarter of the child population is obese or overweight. Dr. Pin warns that childhood obesity is a problem of great magnitude in Spain, and that the implication of the whole society is necessary to combat it. Pin believes that prevention is the best tactic and that families, the education system and health professionals should collaborate to establish standards of balanced and healthy diet for children.
Source: EUROPE PRESS