Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition where the affected person stops breathing for a short period of time during sleep. It’s a common misconception that sleep apnea is a condition that is limited to adults, when in fact, a small but not insignificant percentage of children and young adults suffer from OSA.
OSA is children is usually caused by the presence of large tonsils and adenoids in the back of the mouth/throat. When these structures are too large, they can temporarily cause the airway to be obstructed in a sleeping patient.
OSA is an area of active current research and the clinical guidelines for making a definitive diagnosis of OSA and for treatment of OSA are still being coordinated. The latest conclusions suggest that some children with OSA may have problems with growth and development, learning disabilities, as well as potential cardiac problem. One thought is that these problems develop because of the increase and decrease of oxygen flow during the night due to apneic episodes.