AAP: Screen kids for sleep apnea

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Tuesday, April 30, 2002

CHICAGO — Pediatricians should screen all kids for chronic snoring, as it's one of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA), according to guidelines recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

During the past 3 years, the AAP conducted a review of more than 2,000 medical journal articles to develop the first-of-their-kind guidelines on sleep apnea among kids.
The guidelines, which appear in the April issue of the APA's Pediatrics journal, warn pediatricians and parents not to dismiss snoring as an "annoying habit." They then provide several recommendations for the diagnosis and management of OSAS, including:

- Ask all kids and their parents whether the kid snores.

- For those who do snore, ask whether the snoring is continuous, causes the kid to choke or gasp, or causes labored breathing or sweating during the night.

Although the guidelines point to the removal of tonsils and adenoids as the "first line of treatment" for OSA, they recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for kids who aren't candidates for surgery. The guidelines also recommend kids who snore be tested for OSA using nighttime sleep studies.

While about 3% to 12% of kids snore, about 2% are thought to have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause significant health problems such as poor growth, neurological or behavioral problems, and in the most severe cases, heart problems. HME

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