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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.

Obstructed sleep in children may lead to:

  • hyperextended neck
  • tossing and turning in bed
  • perspiration from laboured sleep
  • bed wetting or drooling
  • difficulties learning at school
  • mouth breathing or noisy breathing
  • sleep sitting and sleeping in strange positions
  • sleepwalking or nightmares
  • excessive daytime sleepiness or irritability
  • morning headaches or repetitive earache

OSA in children may have the same serious consequences as the condition has for adults (see our Paediatric ENT Doctor).

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.
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
  • How frequent and how severe is your child's snoring problems
  • How long each the "non-breathing" periods lasts
  • How frequently the "non-breathing" periods occur
Complete Range of ENT Services

Our Singapore ENT clinic specialises in the end-to-end management of all ear, nose, and throat conditions while keeping the best ENT practices in mind.

We offer comprehensive care for the diagnosis and treatment of simple and complex ENT conditions ranging from allergies, ear infections and tonsillitis, to hearing disorders and ENT cancers in both adults and children. Our general and paediatric ENT services also include sinus and snoring surgery to treat obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), sinusitis, breathing disorders and congenital abnormalities.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergies
Diagnosis and Treatment of Ear and Hearing Disorders
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sinus and Nasal Disorders
Screening, Diagnosis, and Management of ENT Cancers
Diagnosis and Treatment of Throat Disorders
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Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
Singapore 228510

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