sleep apnea | Children, the unacknowledged victims

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

Posted on April 21

Pierre Pratapoy
France media agency

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

According to Inserm data, the percentage rises to 8% for those aged 20 to 44, and more for those who are older. 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, ‘Hey, he snores like his grandfather’…No, a child who snores is not normal,'” says Patricia Franco, chief of the pediatric sleep unit at Woman Mother Child Hospital (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

Often the disease is unexpected in children, and it is very harmful, notes Andre Staniara, director of rehabilitation at La Maisonnée, a follow-up care institution for children located in Franceville.

He plays the night recording of a 4-year-old child: we hear a “kind of beating”, the air enters the lungs with difficulty. Then the sound decreases and breathing stops for about twenty seconds: apnea, which repeats several times an hour.

“He does this all night. However, during paradoxical sleep (dreaming) we record the learning of the day: partial awakening associated with low oxygen will alter the psychomotor development of the child”, sums up the practitioner. “You can’t imagine the potential lost.”

“To learn how to hold a spoon well, articulate, tie shoelaces, read, write, etc., you need good sleep, so that the brain can do its job of sorting and archiving,” reels Ds wellness. 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, lack of attention at school, and hyperactivity or irritability, are other signs and disorders that a child has that should encourage parents to consult and seek specialists.

It’s time for a diagnosis

Nasal drops or anti-allergy treatment, removal of enlarged tonsils or adenoids, maxillofacial physical therapy for tongue repositioning, nasal septal surgery or orthodontics, CPAP breathing apparatus … Responses to sleep apnea vary, being heavy to To some extent, depending on the type of issue.

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 “completely inadequate in terms of number”, as 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.

“It makes no sense,” the practitioner grieved. We found a pulmonologist, who is a blessing from heaven, and we won’t be offering her a one-year fixed-term contract…”

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