Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This information is useful for children
A girl is sleeping.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our team of pediatric pulmonologists, sleep-medicine specialists, and ear, nose and throat surgeons work together to diagnose and treat your child.
  • Our Pediatric Sleep Medicine Program is the regional leader in diagnosing and treating sleep problems in children.
  • Yale New Haven Children's Hospital has two child-friendly pediatric sleep labs (one in New Haven, one at Bridgeport Hospital).

If your child snores, sleeps with his or her mouth open, has a poor attention span and/or behavioral issues, obstructive sleep apnea may be the problem.

Most children don’t snore so if your child does, consider asking your doctor whether there might be a problem. About 10 percent of kids who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the muscles at the back of the throat intermittently relax too much, partially or completely blocking the airway. This means the child’s breathing may be starting and stopping during sleep. These breathing interruptions, which typically last 10 to 20 seconds, may happen anywhere from five to more than 30 times in one hour.

Every time your child stops breathing, even briefly, the brain awakens slightly. Consequently, their quality of sleep is extremely poor, which can make your child tired and cranky during the day. This can bring other health problems, including poor growth.

Fortunately, pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is treatable. If the problem is the result of enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a simple surgery to remove either or both provides a cure. Other times, your child may need to wear a specialized medical device while they sleep. No matter the solution, Yale Medicine’s team of pediatric specialists—including sleep medicine and ear, nose and throat physicians (otolaryngologists)—are specially trained in treating children with these issues.

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