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  Dr Lau Chee Chong
Senior consultant, Ear Nose Throat, Head & Neck Surgery

  Snoring and OSA in Children

"Chronic snoring in children is not normal" - Professor Christian Guilleminault, Stanford University

Snoring and sleep disorders are problems that most people associate with adults. However, these problems also afflict many children. People do not simply start snoring at age thirty – the problem usually begins many years beforehand, and develop and worsen as time passes. The exact incidence of OSA in children in Singapore has not been intensively studied, although one recent study of school children estimated a prevalence of about 6%.


There appears to be a significant genetic component to the likelihood of a child having OSA. There is also a racial element. OSA is more common generally in the Chinese population, particularly the Southern Chinese.

  1. Very often, a child's sleeping problem is due to obesity, enlarged tonsils or adenoids or nasal congestion (from sinusitis, polyps or allergic rhinitis), or sometimes a combination of these causes. In most children's cases, the problem is readily treated or corrected. 

  2. A failure to diagnose and properly treat these conditions when the child is still young may have impact on the child's physical and mental development and may have extremely serious medical consequences, as the child gets older. There is an urgency to correct the problem before puberty, as this may lead to a serious OSA problem in adulthood. 

  3. Studies have shown that:
  • Lack of beneficial sleep may result in a child failing to thrive and grow.

  • The manner in which a child sleeps in the first few years of life will determine the development of the face, jaw and teeth. Approximately 60% of the adult face is "built" by the time a child is four! Snoring and mouth breathing during these years (when much time is spent in sleep) may result in abnormal development of the face, jaw and teeth. This abnormal facial growth may perpetuate the breathing difficulty during sleep in a vicious cycle. The child, if left untreated long enough, may develop "adenoid facies" in adulthood, with permanent small chin, small nose, open mouth and orthodontic abnormalities like overbite and long face.

Obstructed sleep in children may lead to:

- hyperextended neck - mouth breathing or noisy breathing
- tossing and turning in bed - sleep sitting and sleeping in
  strange positions
- perspiration from laboured sleep - sleepwalking or nightmares
- bed wetting or drooling - excessive daytime sleepiness
  or irritability
- difficulties learning at school - morning headaches or repetitive
  • OSA in children may have the same serious consequences as the condition has for adults (see above).

Signs that your child may have OSA

  1. Is your child obese?
  2. Does your child tend to breathe through his mouth?
  3. Does you child have sinus problems?
  4. Does your child have enlarged tonsils, a small chin or a large tongue?
  5. Does your child snore?
  6. Are there periods during your child's sleep when he appears to stop breathing?
  7. During sleep, does your child toss and turn or perspire excessively?
  8. Does your child have difficulty waking up?
  9. Does he have trouble staying awake or attentive during the day?
  10. Is your child irritable during the day?
  11. Does either parent have any of the above signs?

Important observations to tell the doctor if you suspect your child has OSA

  1. How frequent and how severe is your child's snoring problems
  2. How long each the "non-breathing" periods lasts
  3. How frequently the "non-breathing" periods occur

Send us an enquiry

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   Obstructive Sleep Apnea
   Snoring & OSA in Children
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   Navigational / Image-Guided
System for Sinus Surgery
   Nose Cancer
   Chronic Cough
   Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

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Ear Nose & Throat Centre CC Lau
3 Mount Elizabeth 
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Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre Singapore 228510

Phone: (65) 6235 9535
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