By DR. KITTU JINDAL GARG, ABC News Medical Unit
A new set of practice guidelines released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) may help parents and pediatricians uncover things that go snore in the night.
Pediatric sleep experts focused on children with a condition known as uncomplicated obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing is interrupted during sleep and is related to enlarged tonsils or obesity. It is a condition the AAP says affects 1.2 to 5.7 percent of American children. They reviewed evidence from 350 study articles between 1999 and 2010 to create the following recommendations:
The last set of guidelines for pediatric sleep apnea was released in 2002. The changes reflected in these new guidelines were made in light of research over the past 10 years that has suggested that delayed diagnosis of childhood sleep apnea "can result in severe complications if left untreated," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics report. Examples include cognitive deficits, behavior problems, hypertension and heart problems, failure to thrive and inflammation throughout the body.
With these new guidelines, the AAP hopes that more cases of childhood sleep apnea will be diagnosed sooner and children will receive the proper treatments earlier to prevent these dangerous long-term effects.
"These new guidelines are extremely important," says Dr. Vikas Jain, a sleep specialist at Integris Health in Oklahoma City.
"Pediatric sleep apnea is a rising problem among American children and leads to serious consequences," he says. "The sooner we can diagnose a child with this condition, the sooner we can get these kids started on the right treatments to improve their quality of life and their overall health."