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  • Foundation for Airway Health

Sleep-Disordered Breathing Can Impact a Child's Growth and Health

Updated: Jan 26




While many people associate snoring, apnea, and other breathing issues with adults, they can affect children and, in some cases, may even be more severe. If left untreated, these conditions can negatively affect a child’s growth and overall health. Continue reading to learn how snoring, apnea, and other breathing problems can impact a child’s development and health and what parents can do to help their children.


Snoring and Apnea

Snoring can be a sign of a more severe condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 1% to 4% of children suffer from OSA. Based on research, OSA is a risk factor for growth impairment in children.


The lack of oxygen that occurs with OSA can also affect a child’s brain development. A study published by the National Institutes of Health found that children with OSA had lower test scores on cognitive and behavioral tests than children without the condition. The researchers suggested that the chronic lack of oxygen caused by OSA could negatively impact brain development, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioral problems.


Additional Breathing Issues

Aside from OSA, other breathing problems can also affect a child’s health. Asthma is one example of a common condition in which the airways become inflamed, making it challenging to breathe. Asthma can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, and be triggered by various factors, like exercise, allergies, and pollution. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around six million children in the US have asthma.


Asthma can impact a child’s growth and development in several ways. First, it can cause sleep disturbances, leading to fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Second, asthma can limit a child’s physical activity, impacting their overall health and fitness levels. Additionally, asthma may also affect a child’s lung function and development.


Diagnosis and Treatment

You should seek medical attention if you suspect your child may suffer from snoring, apnea, or other breathing issues. Diagnosis and treatment of these conditions can help alleviate symptoms and prevent long-term health complications. In addition, children can overcome these breathing issues with proper diagnosis and treatment and live healthy and fulfilling lives.


Treatment options for sleep-disordered breathing and asthma vary depending on the severity of the condition. Lifestyle changes, like weight loss and exercise, can often improve mild cases of sleep-disordered breathing. However, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or other treatments may be necessary in more severe cases.


Asthma can be managed through medication, avoidance of triggers, and lifestyle changes. Working with your child’s healthcare provider to develop treatment plans that work best for your child’s individual needs is essential.


Help Us Promote the Benefits of Airway Health

Join The Foundation for Airway Health’s mission to ensure everyone understands how breathing impacts health and development. Your donation allows us to spread the word about the importance of breathing for overall health, conduct valuable research, and ensure access to care.

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