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Sleep apnea affecting young kids

Sleep apnea in children

When you think about sleep apnea, you likely imagine it impacting adults who are overweight.

Pediatricians are now seeing it in babies as young as 1 to 2-months-old.

Devon Rising was diagnosed when he was in the 3rd grade. He was held back because he couldn't keep up with the other kids in class.

His mom kept trying to figure out what was wrong. They finally did a sleep study and started to get some answers.

Stacey Rising said, "They found he had stopped breathing 48 times that night. He wasn't getting into that deep delta sleep and just learning was becoming more difficult. We thought it was tonsils and adenoids and it wasn't."

Rising was surprised when the doctor diagnosed him with sleep apnea.

She said, "I always think of it as being overweight men. I was really surprised, more prevalent than we realize."

Devon was fitted with a sleep mask and hooked up to a CPAP machine. He now uses it every night.

Devon said at first, it took awhile to get used to. He said, "When you have this on, it's weird. You have something covering your face and touching it. You aren't used it, took about a month or two to get used to it."

Now it's difficult for him to sleep without it. It's made a huge difference.

Stacey said, "He started 3rd grade on a CPAP and started making learning gains. By the end of 6th grade, he earned a perfect score on FCAT reading...We didn't realize how bad it was for him until we saw how good it was."

Nemours Pediatric Pulmonary sleep doctor, Chris Makris says 2 to 4% of children have sleep apnea. It can start when they're an infant but the majority of children get it either when they're a toddler or a teenager.

Dr. Makris said, "It's like someone sitting by their bed and every 3-4 minutes sitting there and waking them up, so they don't get consolidated sleep."

Dr. Makris says there are several signs your child could be at risk. He said, "Are they snoring? Hard to wake up in morning? Hyper during the day, sleeping during the day? Children should not be falling asleep at school. If so, you need to be thinking there is something going on with their sleep."

He says there are two ways to treat it. Either removing the tonsils and adenoids or fitting the child with a CPAP machine. In cases like Devin's, it was a game changer.

His mom laughs, "I think you will be hard pressed to get that machine away from him."