Baby Sleep Apnea How to Diagnose and Treat
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which breathing pauses happen during sleep. People think that this sleep problem affects mostly on obese men over 65. Actually, sleep apnea can affect both men and female of all age. Babies can even suffer from this sleep problem. Baby sleep apnea mostly affects premature babies. Sleep apnea which affects full term babies is usually called apnea of infancy.
Type of sleep apnea which affects babies
Babies who were prematurely born usually suffer from central sleep apnea. This type of apnea is caused by babies’ central nervous system which is not mature enough to regulate breathing during sleep. In consequence, they will stop breathing several times during sleep. This baby sleep apnea can also be caused by infection, bleeding in the brain, a birth defect, or exposure to poisons or drugs.
Obstructive sleep apnea is very common in adults. However, it is very rare in babies. Babies who suffer from Down syndrome or congenital conditions usually also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the throat muscles are too relaxed and obstruct the nasal congestion during sleep. In consequence, their breath will stop about 20 seconds before it starts again.
Symptoms of sleep apnea in babies
Sleep apnea symptoms in adults and babies are slightly different. In babies, the breathing stop lasts about 20 seconds before it starts again. Meanwhile in adults or older children, it happens for about 10 seconds. If your baby suffers from sleep apnea, you will likely witness your baby gasping and choking before he takes a breath. Another symptom is that your baby may turn a bit blue on his forehead when his breathing stops.
You must be able to differentiate between sleep apnea and periodic breathing in babies less than 6 months old. Periodic breathing is a common condition in babies under 6 months old. In this condition, babies experience rapid breathing in a certain period during their sleep. After that, he will breathe slowly and then stop breathing between 10 and 15 seconds.
How to diagnose and treat sleep apnea
If you think that your baby is suffering from sleep apnea, you must bring him to the doctor right away. The doctor will do various tests and physical exams on your baby. Some of the tests and exams to diagnose sleep apnea are your baby’s heart rate, breathing, and oxygen amount in his blood. The doctor will also do a polysomnogram test. In this test, sleep specialist will record breathing, brain waves, snoring, eye movement, and oxygen level in the blood during sleep.
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To treat your baby, your doctor may prescribe certain medication in order to stimulate his central nervous system. The doctor may also suggest you to use a certain machine to help your baby in breathing. This breathing support machine is usually more suitable for obstructive sleep apnea.
It is important to put your baby on sleep apnea treatment because this sleep problem can cause more serious problems. One of them is bradycaria or drop in heart rate. Baby sleep apnea can be a seriuous health problem if not treat correctly.