A new screening tool has been developed to help doctors diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children. A large neck size is already considered a risk factor for OSA in adults, and a new study suggests that it could also apply to children as well.
At the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, clinical investigators found a link between having a large neck size and an increased risk of having OSA in young males 12 and older.
Published in the journal Pediatric Pulmonology, the study included the examination of 245 children, between the ages of 6 and 17. Researchers determined that boys ages 12 and older had a 3.3 times higher risk for OSA if they were in the top 95th percentile for neck circumference, in comparison to other kids, possessing smaller sized necks. The same correlation was not found in girls.
The research team also looked at Body Mass Index (BMI), but did not find that it stands alone as a significant predictor of OSA. This suggests that body fat distribution centrally in the trunk and neck predicts the risk of OSA, not necessarily obesity.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, OSA in children is also associated with bed-wetting, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, thinking problems and metabolic problems.
Promoting healthy sleep habits for children is essential for their futures. Establish a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine that includes cutting off TV time at least an hour before bed.
Keep an eye out for off-kilter sleep patterns, snoring, and hyperactive behavior. Doctors don’t typically ask about sleep problems, so feel comfortable with bringing it up first. If you suspect your child has a sleep disorder, there is no harm in getting him or her checked out by a certified sleep specialist.