Sleep-disordered breathing – newly identified cause
The 2013 study, conducted at the Pediatric Sleep Center at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center showed that:
- Asthma and allergies do not contribute to pediatric sleep-disordered breathing.
- Viruses alone may be responsible for the seasonal disordered breathing variation in children.
A common example of a sleep-breathing disorder is obstructive sleep apnea – blockage of the upper airway by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, causing snoring or even stopped breathing. The result is elevated carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream, decreased oxygen and, consequently, low-quality and fragmented sleep.
If not treated, childhood sleep-disordered breathing can result in heart disease, stunted growth, and neurocognitive problems that often lead to lower school performance, hindered language development. And, as this 2012 study showed, sleep-breathing issues can also lead to troubling behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness, as well as emotional symptoms and difficulty with peer relationships.
In their study, the researchers looked closely at the cases of more than 2,000 children and adolescents between 2008 and 2010. The results confirmed results of an earlier study of children 5 to 9: that sleep-disordered breathing is worse in the the coldest months of November to March. Their statistics showed the children under five years of age showed the most stark seasonal variability in their breathing issues. The scientists also learned that neither wheezing nor asthma contributed to the seasonal trend.
The sleep clinic tests were primarily captured in warmer weather. The researchers believe that, had all the research been conducted in the winter, seven percent more children would have been diagnosed with sleep-disordered breathing.
Researchers concluded that viral respiratory infections – the common element in younger children during colder months – are likely the main cause of the seasonal variability in children’s sleep-disordered breathing.
How might this affect your doctor’s treatment of your child’s sleep-breathing problem? If it’s the colder time of the year when he or she sees your child, and if the symptoms are not severe, your doctor may advise that no treatment is the right response – that your child’s condition is likely to improve as the weather improves.