We always want to protect our children. That’s a fact. But what do you know about the quality of sleep they are getting? It might be difficult to understand if you are not in the room with them. That is why a sleep apnea diagnosis is key to protecting our children’s health and well-being.
I note this because a recent study found that children with obstructive sleep apnea are nearly three times more likely to develop high blood pressure when they become teenagers than those who never experience sleep apnea. The good news, though, is that children whose sleep apnea improves as they grow into adolescence do not show an increased chance of having high blood pressure.
Underscoring the seriousness of sleep apnea
This long-term study is one of the largest of its kind in the pediatric population. It emphasizes just how serious sleep apnea is in children and why it is vital that we ensure children get treatment early.
While sleep apnea mostly occurs in adults, it is estimated that about 10% of school-aged children can also suffer from this sleep disordered breathing condition. Fortunately, though, almost half outgrow this condition by the time they reach adolescence. But, for the other half, they will experience chronic and persistent problems with sleep apnea. And because we can’t predict who will outgrow their sleep apnea, early treatment is beneficial for preventing long-term cardiovascular health decline.
This means it is important for dentists to provide dental sleep medicine in their practice to prevent further development of other comorbidities among children and adults.