Infant Sleep Apnea – Diagnosis & Treatment
You may need to take your infant to a doctor who is a sleep specialist. If so then you should schedule an appointment at an accredited sleep disorders center. Some centers specialize in helping children. A sleep specialist will review your infant’s history and symptoms. If needed, the doctor will schedule your infant for an overnight sleep study. This kind of study is called a polysomnogram. It is the best way to evaluate your child’s sleep. With the results of this study the doctor will be able to develop an individual treatment plan for your child.
It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your child’s sleep problems. A sleep specialist can look for other conditions that may be involved. These include:
- Another sleep disorder
- A medical condition
- Medication use
- A mental health disorder
The doctor will need to know if your child was born premature or full-term. He or she will also need to know your child’s weight at birth. Inform the doctor of any complications that you or your baby had during or after delivery. Describe the problems you have observed and when you first noticed them.
An infant who has persistent breathing problems during sleep may need an overnight sleep study. This study is called a polysomnogram. It charts your child’s brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing during sleep. It also records arm and leg movements. The sleep study will reveal the nature of your infant’s breathing problem. It also will show the severity of the problem. The study requires your child to spend the night at the sleep center. A parent or guardian also will need to stay at the sleep center with the child.
Infants with infant sleep apnea may need a machine to provide breathing support. They also may need treatment with medications. Both of these options tend to be short-term treatments.
Infant sleep apnea tends to go away as the child grows and matures. Ninety-eight percent of preterm infants will be free of symptoms by 40 weeks after conception. The problem is more likely to persist longer in infants who were born less than 28 weeks after conception.
Any medical condition that causes infant sleep apnea or makes it worse also needs to be treated. The treatment will depend on the nature of the medical problem.
Long-term complications are rare for most children with infant sleep apnea. Problems are more likely for infants who need frequent resuscitation. Health problems also are more common if the infant sleep apnea is related to another severe medical condition.