Infants and young toddlers with obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing experience significant improvement following surgical treatment of the ailment, according to an invited article in the June 2009 issue of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
The study evaluated 73 cases in which children younger than two years old were treated for obstructive sleep apnea through the removal of the adenoids, tonsils, or both (adenotonsillectomy). Those treated through surgery experienced significant improvement on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), an index that measures the severity of sleep apnea. Those treated medically, but not surgically, exhibited no improvement after treatment. The study's authors also concluded that the rate and types of post-surgical complications were within acceptable levels.
Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in children, from infancy through puberty, while similar to adult sleep apnea, actually has different causes, consequences, and treatments. A child with SDB does not necessarily have this condition when they become an adult. The consequences of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea include snoring; sleep deprivation (which can cause moodiness and behavioral issues); abnormal urine production; slowed growth and development; and attention deficit and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.