Childhood Sleep Disorders Hurt Children’s Learning

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good night of sleep will help your child learn, help her heal, and help him grow.  Unfortunately many children don’t get the sleep they need.  Lack of sleep can cause disruptions in behavior and attitude, and could increase or exacerbate other problems.

As this article shows, any evaluation of learning problems, behavior problems or any health problems a good assessment of sleep habits is needed, and treatment of sleep issues is essential.

In a revised clinical practice guideline, “Diagnosis and Management of Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome,” published in the September 2012 Pediatrics (published online August 27), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children or adolescents who snore regularly be screened for OSAS. Additional symptoms can include labored breathing during sleep, disturbed sleep with frequent gasps, snorts or pauses, and daytime learning problems.

It is important for children exhibiting signs of OSAS to get a comprehensive diagnosis by having an overnight, in-laboratory sleep study done. If left untreated, OSAS can result in problems such as behavioral issues, cardiovascular problems, poor growth and developmental delays. Treatments are available that can result in significant improvements in these complications. Adenotonsillectomy is effective in treating OSAS and is recommended as the first line of therapy. Obesity can be a risk factor, so physicians may recommend weight loss in addition to other therapies in overweight or obese children. Post-operatively, physicians should be aware of the criteria suggesting which patients should be admitted and when other treatment should be considered, such as CPAP.

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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