A new study presented in November at the American College of Allergy, Asthma  and Immunology Annual Meeting found that obese adolescents have an increased risk of sleep apnea or abnormal breathing during sleep.

Previous research has shown that obese children and teenagers are at higher  risk of health-related problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood  pressure and asthma. Children who are overweight are nearly 2-1/2 times more  likely to have asthma than those who are not overweight. Now, this new study  highlights how obesity may interfere with a child’s ability to have restful  sleep.

“Quality nighttime sleep is a key component for advanced executive function  in children and teenagers,” says Sushmita Mikkilineni, M.D., Director Pediatric  Pulmonology for Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ) at Newark Beth Israel  Medical Center. “Untreated pediatric sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, can  exact a heavy toll on young people. Children suffering from sleep disorders may  be hyperactive, inattentive, and chronically tired.”

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the sleeper has one or more pauses in  breathing during sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes  and can occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. This condition results in poor  sleep quality and is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime  sleepiness.

Most people who have sleep apnea do not know they have it because it only  occurs during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood  pressure, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and increase the chance of having  work-related or driving accidents.

The Division of Pulmonary Medicine at CHoNJ provides comprehensive evaluation  of children with respiratory and non-respiratory pediatric sleep disorders  (including obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia etc.) provided by a  physician who is board-certified in pediatric sleep medicine. A State-of-the Art  Pediatric Centered Sleep Laboratory is available at CHoNJ for children who need  sleep studies.

The Division of Pulmonary Medicine at CHoNJ reports children with sleep apnea  may demonstrate these symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Restless sleep
  • Sweaty sleep
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Social difficulties
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Poor school performance and grades

With treatment to eliminate sleep apnea, these symptoms can be reversed.  Treatment of sleep apnea also prevents the strain placed on the heart and lungs  by recurrent drops in oxygen and repeated awakenings during the night, which can  result in hypertension and heart disease, reports Dr. Mikkilenini.

For more information or an appointment with The Division of Pulmonary  Medicine, call 1-973-926-4273  begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-973-926-4273     end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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