Surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids is typically the first step to treating obstructive sleep apnea in kids. But not all children are candidates for surgery, and for some, it may not cure the sleep apnea. Children who are obese, for example, may still have sleep apnea even after they have their tonsils and adenoids removed. Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea in adults and children.
Marcus says parents should have their child evaluated in a pediatric sleep center if there are concerns. If the apnea does not improve after surgery, PAP may be an option.
The new study included 52 children with obstructive sleep apnea. Children were aged 12, on average. Ten children in the study had significant developmental delays. Children used the device on average for about three hours per night during the three-month study period.
All children showed improvements in attention, behavior, sleepiness, and quality of life when they wore the mask while sleeping. The longer they wore the mask, the less sleepy they tended to be during the day, the new study shows. The improvements were seen in all children, including those with developmental delays.
Surgery Is Treatment of Choice for Most Kids With Sleep Apnea
Treating obstructive sleep apnea in kids will improve their behavior and quality of life, says Michael Rothschild, MD. He is the director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
The real question is will kids wear this thing, he says. “From a practical point of view, young children are not always able to tolerate the mask. The thought of years of using the mask, especially during camp, or overnight stays is less appealing to parents and children.”
Also, PAP is an open-ended treatment. Surgery to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids is sometimes a cure and has a high success rate. Rothschild says PAP may be more appropriate in children for whom there is not a simple fix such as surgery to remove the tonsils.
PAP does work in kids with obstructive sleep apnea, says Philip Alapat, MD, via email. He is an assistant professor of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “The results in the present study support the continued practice of attempting treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with PAP therapy in addition to the well understood therapies of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.”