At the Pediatric Sleep Medicine Center, part of Cohen Children’s, we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep – for your child and for you. When your child is unable to sleep properly, it can impact the entire family. Our highly trained team of dedicated physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists is committed to excellence and has decades of combined experience treating children’s respiratory and non-respiratory sleep issues.
What we treat
We treat a variety of pediatric sleep disorders, including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central apnea
- Apnea of infancy/prematurity
- Nocturnal hypoventilation
- Breathing disorders secondary to cardiac, neurologic and/or gastric disorders
- Circadian rhythm and sleep-wake schedule disorders
- Periodic limb movement disorders
- Rhythmic movement disorders
Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring
Possibly the most common sleep problem in children, obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by a reduction or pause of breathing during sleep. This condition often gets overlooked or goes unrecognized by healthcare professionals. Snoring occurs in about seven out of every 100 children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old. While one in five children who snore will have obstructive sleep apnea, this problem can occur in children who do not snore as well. The typical daytime fatigue that is seen in adults with obstructive sleep apnea is often absent in children, replaced by behavioral problems, inattention and learning difficulties. Long-term obstructive sleep apnea can lead to heart and other respiratory difficulties, making pediatric obstructive sleep apnea a challenging diagnosis to establish and treat in a timely fashion.
Sleep walking, sleep talking, nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bed wetting), nightmares and night terrors make up the largest segment of the pediatric parasomnias. Although reassurance of the normality of these sleep problems is needed, safety issues are of particular importance. In addition, in rare circumstances, these problems can be related to obstructive sleep apnea and neurologic conditions such as epilepsy.
Apnea of prematurity and apnea of infancy
Apnea of prematurity is seen in infants born before 37 weeks’ gestational age and most commonly in infants born before 31 weeks’ gestational age. Apnea of prematurity is thought to be caused by immaturity of the breathing centers of the brain. While most infants “outgrow” this problem, some require ongoing monitoring.
The diagnosis of apnea of infancy is reserved for infants older than 37 weeks’ gestational age and for whom no specific cause of apnea could be identified. Although about a third of these infants will never have another episode of apnea, half of them will, usually within seven days of the first event. One in five infants with apnea of infancy will continue to demonstrate respiratory difficulties throughout the first year of life and beyond. Many of these children require medication therapy and home monitoring, as well as special training for their parents and care providers.
Behavioral sleep problems
Bedtime behavioral issues account for many parents’ concerns. From struggles to transition an infant to sleep through the night, to difficulties keeping teenagers on a regular routine, our bedtime behaviors and rituals dictate many of our sleep patterns and habits.
For infants, a transitional or comfort object (such as a blanket), consistent bedtime patterns and structure provide for the greatest opportunity to develop healthy sleep habits. Likewise, for older children and teenagers, limiting late night television, establishing a nightly routine and reducing night time activities and excitement can be crucial in creating consistency in sleeping and waking rhythms.
While some of these pediatric sleep disorders affect your child on a nightly basis, others can create significant health issues with long-term consequences. You might be tempted to tell yourself these sleep problems are just a phase and your child will outgrow it. However, sleep disorders in children are real. The caring physicians at the Pediatric Sleep Medicine Center will recommend tests and evaluate your child’s sleep problems. Once diagnosed, an individualized treatment plan will be created for your child. It’s important to remember, children experience sleep difficulties and sleep disorders in ways that differ from adults. Not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences for youngsters and healthy, uninterrupted sleep is crucial to the development of growing bodies.
If your child has been living with a sleep disorder, it’s a huge relief when they can sleep through the night. From bedtime rituals to afternoon naps, our children's sleep habits are formed at a very young age and help to define their behavior, growth, learning and overall health. The goal of the Pediatric Sleep Medicine Center is to create a supportive, healing environment for you and your child and to put your mind at rest so you can sleep easier, too.