Children are grossly underdiagnosed for sleep disordered breathing (SDB), which includes obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and the symptoms may be wrongly attributed to behavior issues, as per research in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Sleep apnea and related conditions can cause lasting damage to brain development during crucial years. Thus, children with undiagnosed SDB have been reported to use health care 226% more than the general population. An international study headed by researchers from Aarhus University has for the first time uncovered the large-scale brain patterns and networks in the brain which control sleep, providing knowledge which in the future may can in the long term help the many Danes large proportion of people who experience problems sleeping.
Symptoms of diseases
Up to 15% of children have some form of sleep disordered breathing. However, 90% go undiagnose, often because symptoms are misattribute to psychological or emotional issues. Children who have behaviour problems or are suspect to have ADHD might actually be suffering from a chronic lack of restorative sleep, says John White, DDS, co-author on this study.
Researchers explain that neurocognitive development, cellular regeneration, and tissue and bone growth all occur during the deep sleep stage. However, when breathing is obstruct in the upper airway, the brain switches back from deep to light sleep to resume normal breathing barring the mind and body from critical restorative processes.
Symptoms of SDB and OSA in children include snoring, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, teeth grinding and jaw clenching, migraines, bedwetting, and irritability. If SDB is suspect, White says a referral to a multidisciplinary team is ideal. This typically includes a pediatric ENT, sleep specialist, dentist trained in craniofacial development, and a myofunctional therapist.
Cause of Airway problems in children’s
Researcher says that dentists are often able to screen for the problem; because it is roots in dysfunctional craniofacial development, which begin early on. He explains that infants with tongue-tie or who have latching problems during breastfeeding might be at risk for developing SDB or OSA, as well as children who have speech delays.
A lot of airway problems come from poor jaw structure, says by author. And the tongue is crucial in shaping the mouth, jaw and nasal cavity. For children who are diagnose with SDB or OSA; hence the first line of treatment is usually removing the child’s tonsils and adenoids, per White.
If SDB persists following surgery, dentists might employ an orthodontic maxillary expander. The device braces against the palate and top molars, with an adjustable bar bridging across the roof of the mouth. Parents turn a screw that extends the bridge one notch each week, over six to seven weeks.
In that time, the roof of the mouth is expand, increasing the volume of the nasal cavity and greatly improving respiratory patterns. Once we identify sleep apnea, treatment is usually very effective. The challenge is catching it early enough, says White. The early years are critical for brain development, so it’s essential that this condition is on our radar.