The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pegs at 17 the percentage of
children ages 2 to 19 who are obese, which means they have a BMI (body mass index)
greater than the 95th percential of all children of the same sex and age.
When it comes to sleep apnea, age doesn’t matter, so these youths are just as much at
risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because they’re overweight as are
adults two, three, four or more times their age in years.
Medical professionals use the term comorbidities to describe the diseases that can
arise from a single source, which in this case is being overweight, and the
comorbidities for obesity at any age are coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and
sleep apnea, among others.
The comorbidities for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also include behavioral
disturbances such as mood disorders, cognitive impairments and poor school performance.
Untreated sleep apnea also has the potential to cause cardiovascular and metabolic
Enough of the scare tactics, right?
The point is that just because they’re children — and they’re our children — they’re
not immune to the ravages that can result from being overweight, or from the diseases
and difficulties that can arise from OSA.
If your child is overweight, or if she or he exhibits nighttime sleeping/snoring
problems and/or daytime stay-awake and stay-focused problems, you should be just as
concerned as if you yourself were experiencing the same symptoms.
Of course, obesity is just one cause of sleep apnea, but it is certainly one that can
be controlled by simply losing weight.
Obesity is reversible through diet, exercise and common sense, but in the meantime,
your child may well need to have his or her sleep problems, especially if suspected of
arising from OSA, treated and prevented from causing further problems.
Family doctors are not really able to diagnose sleep apnea, so your best choice is to
go to a sleep clinic such as the Snoring Center for evaluation and treatment. Whether
it’s you or your child, don’t hesitate, but get evaluated today.