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, according to research in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Up to 15% of children have some form of sleep-disordered breathing. However, 90% go undiagnosed, often because symptoms are misattributed to psychological or emotional issues.
“Children who have behavior problems or are suspected to have ADHD might actually be suffering from a chronic lack of restorative sleep,” says John White, DDS, study coauthor, in a release.
Neurocognitive development, cellular regeneration, and tissue and bone growth all occur during the deep sleep stage. However, when breathing is obstructed in the upper airway, the brain switches back from deep to light sleep in order 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 suspected, White says a referral to a multidisciplinary team is ideal. He suggests this includes