Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder during sleep caused by prolonged partial and/or complete obstruction of the airway that disrupts normal breathing during sleep and normal sleep patterns. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 1-4% of children. It is typically associated with enlarged adenoid and tonsils in preschool age and obesity in adolescents. If suspected of sleep apnea, your provider can refer your child for an overnight sleep study called polysomnography.

What are symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in children?

Typical symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include:

  • Difficulty in breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent awakenings
  • Bedwetting
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Poor school performance

The most common treatment for OSA is the removal of the tonsils and adenoids. Young children, those with neurological abnormalities and those with severe OSA are prone to postoperative complications and are usually observed in our step-down unit following surgery.

At Comer Children's, staff monitor patients very closely so they can detect any respiratory problems and resolve them quickly. Our pediatric otolaryngologists offer the best care for even the most complicated cases of OSA.

What is polysomnography?

Pediatric polysomnography is an overnight sleep study which record brain waves, nasal flow, chest/abdominal movement, oxygen level, heart rate, carbon dioxide level and legs movement with video monitoring.

What can you expect during a pediatric sleep study?

Your child will spend the night in the sleep center. An overnight technician will place sensors in different areas of the body including the head, chin, around the eyes, and legs. A belt with be placed in the child chest and stomach. One parent or guardian can stay with the child to get the study.

How is sleep apnea in children treated?

Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea seen on the polysomnogram, treatment options may include medications, surgery, position therapy, and continuous pressure airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

What surgical options are available for pediatric sleep apnea?

Because enlarged adenoid and tonsils are known to commonly cause obstructive sleep apnea in children, removal of the adenoid and tonsil has shown to treat and improve obstructive sleep apnea. However, children with structural or facial features that are associate with OSA, other surgical options may be consider such as rapid maxillary expansion and mandibular distraction osteogenesis.

What is CPAP?

CPAP provides a continuous pressure through a tight fitted face mask from a machine which keeps the airway opens while yourchild is sleeping. CPAP would be used when surgery cannot adequately treat the obstructive sleep apnea. Your child will undergo an overnight study assess for an optimal pressure setting to treat their sleep apnea.

Request an Appointment

The information you provide will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment.

You can also make an appointment with our providers by:

Scheduling a virtual video visit to see a provider from the comfort of your home

Requesting an online second opinion from our specialists 

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-773-702-6169. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


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Pediatric Sleep Disorders