Children with Down syndrome are at greater risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder which affects especially children.
The complications involve a life time of treatment and care from specialists in all areas of medicine.
Sleep disorders is common and prevents Down syndrome patients from obtaining adequate sleep and inability to function on daily basis.
Down syndrome is a congenital condition caused by an extra chromosome. It is characterized by cognitive delays and certain facial features.
Down syndrome symptoms:
Symptoms differ from person to person and can range from mild to severe. In children, the symptoms can be widely recognized. The head may be smaller than normal and abnormally shaped. The head may be around with a flat area on the back. The inner corner of the eyes may be rounded instead of pointed.
Symptoms of Down syndrome include:
- Flattened nose
- Small mouth
- Small ears
- Excessive skin at the nape of the neck
- White spots on the colored part of the eye
- Wide, short hands with short fingers
Children born with Down syndrome have several medical conditions including:
- Hearing problems
- Eye problems such as cataract
- Hip dislocation
- Underactive thyroid
- Birth defects involving heart
- Sleep apnea
Children with Down syndrome have cessation of respiration, for up to 20 seconds with respiratory activity continuing with further complication.
Obstructive sleep apnea in Down syndrome child is the result of malformation of the facial structure which includes the narrow passageway of the nasal and throat area.
Down syndrome infant appears to sleep in odd position. These body manipulations are done to improved breathing. The child may sweat during periods of sleep and even appear over sleepy during the day due to disturbed sleeping patterns.
Down syndrome children suffering from obstructive sleep apnea experience an increase in blood pressure and hypertension. The lack of oxygen flow in child’s body has impact on growth and development. Daytime functioning and learning are affected in children.
Down syndrome diagnosis:
Treatment of sleep apnea in Down syndrome children involves diagnosis of sleep disorder. Sleep apnea in Down syndrome child involves study of child’s respiration during nap, called as nap somnography.
Once the child is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are many treatment options available to the Down syndrome child including surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils. It may improve child’s health by avoiding throat disorders and complications.
Down syndrome treatment:
Child should be admitted in hospital for the surgery. The recovery takes long time in Down syndrome child with OSA when compared to children without the Down syndrome.
The doctor also recommends continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for the treatment of sleep apnea. CPAP provides additional oxygen and pressure during sleep to improve respiration.
Using CPAP for Down syndrome child is often frustrating. Regularly CPAP mask should be used and adjusted. But, it is critical to use CPAP for Down syndrome child to improve health during growth and development stage.
In severe cases, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) procedure is performed to reduce sleep apnea. This procedure is for children with large and floppy soft palates.