Penn State Health study finds kids are also susceptible to sleep apnea


(WHTM) — Millions of Americans have sleep apnea and most don’t even know it. This is mostly a health issue for middle-aged, overweight adults. But you may be surprised to hear that 10% of kids have it too.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have it.

“It’s not that new actually,” Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Psychologist Dr. Julio Fernandez-Mendoza said. “Sleep apnea in children has been here for a long time. However, it is true that sleep apnea in middle-aged adults is what we hear about all the time.”

As children have grown more overweight, it’s become more common. Dr. Fernandez-Mendoza and his colleagues just released the findings of their study on kids with sleep apnea. “What has happened over the decades is that childhood sleep apnea has been paid much less attention to although it’s a real problem,” Dr. Fernandez-Mendoza said.

The study started in 2000 with children aged five to 12-years-old. They found that the main cause of sleep apnea is the same as adults, being overweight. The negative effects on cardiovascular health are the same too. What kind of price do people pay when they develop sleep apnea so early in life? “They were three times more likely to have elevated blood pressure,” Dr. Fernandez-Mendoza said.

When boys become adolescents, they are more likely to still have it. The best advice for parents of both boys and girls, help your children maintain a healthy weight.

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