Children, unacknowledged victims of sleep apnea

(AFP) – It is mentioned above all for adults, but sleep apnea is far from rare in children and is harmful to their development, warned specialists, calling for early detection of this pathology.

Its prevalence in children ranges from 2 to 5% in most studies, and sometimes more, pulmonologist and allergist Madiha Al-Lafi confirmed during a webinar organized on the occasion of the 22nd National Sleep Day, March 18.

According to Inserm data, the percentage rises to 8% for those aged 20-44, and more for older adults. But for this doctor from Albee, co-founder of the Association for Ideas that promotes care for young patients, sleep apnea “affects at least one in twenty children,” a rate 100 times higher than for those called rare diseases.

Night snoring, a clinical sign of a possible obstructive sleep syndrome, is not sufficiently taken into account according to specialists, while a recent study by the OpinionWay Institute, which was conducted on a thousand parents, revealed that 6% of children suffer from snoring.

“I often hear people say, ‘Here, he’s snoring like his grandfather’ +…No, baby snores, it’s not normal,” Patricia Franco, head of the sleep unit, confirms to AFP. HFME) in Bron, near Lyon.

There may be occasional discomfort – stuffy nose for example. “But if a child snores every night, in a prolonged and intense way, you should consider sleep apnea,” insists the doctor, whose “message is not sufficiently communicated in families.”

– loss of ability –

The disease is often unexpected in children, and it is very harmful, notes André Stagnara, director of rehabilitation at La Maisonnée, a pediatric follow-up care institution located in Francheville (Rhône).

He plays the night recording of a four-year-old: we hear a “kind of whining,” the air hardly enters the lungs. Then the sound decreases and breathing stops for about twenty seconds: apnea, which repeats several times an hour.

“He does this all night long. However, during REM sleep we record daily learning: partial awakening associated with low oxygen will alter the child’s psychomotor development,” summarizes the practitioner. “We can’t imagine the wasted potential.”

“To learn how to hold a spoon well, articulate, tie shoelaces, read, write, etc., you need a good sleep, so that the brain can do its job of sorting and archiving,” Dr. Lavi recounts. and “In order to sleep well, you have to breathe well.”

Besides snoring, restless nights, difficulty waking up, dark circles in the eyes, pale skin, daytime fatigue, inattention at school, and hyperactivity or irritability, are other signs and disorders that a child has that should encourage parents to consult and seek specialists.

Diagnosis time

Nasal drops or anti-allergic therapy Removal of enlarged tonsils or adenoids Maxillofacial physical therapy for tongue repositioning Nasal septal surgery or orthodontics ‘CPAP’ respirator … Answers Sleep apnea, more or less heavy, varies Depending on the situation.

It is still necessary to reach a diagnosis. There are two pediatric dormitories in France, each containing three registration beds: in Paris (Robert Despres Hospital) and in Bron (HFME), where the waiting time “easily reaches a year,” says Patricia Frank.

Since 2019, it has been creating a regional sponsorship network to better meet the demand. The Inter-University Diploma has existed since 2011, with 20 laureates annually, and sleep training in Pediatrics is being developed. The fact remains that specialists are still few in number.

Services such as La Maisonnée also manage recordings but they are “absolutely insufficient in number”, it has been pointed out.

For André Stagnara, the solution includes opening extra beds and using remote monitoring for children with hearing aids. The structure of Franceville is implementing a project in this direction, the financing of which has been approved by the Regional Health Agency for a year of trials.

“That doesn’t make sense, the practitioner regrets. We found a pediatrician, who is a gift from heaven, and we won’t offer her a one-year fixed-term contract…”

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