Snoring linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in up to 25% of Children

Children who regularly snore are likely to have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), which has been linked to behavioural problems, inattentiveness, hyperactivity and delayed development says researcher and orthodontist Dr Vandana Katyal.

What does this have to do with us at Enhance Dentistry?  Well … EVERYTHING!  When we treat babies to allow them to breast-feed more effectively, we are allowing the expansion of the palate and hence this has an impact on widening the breathing spaces (sinuses) situated above the palate.  This provides a greater chance for efficient breathing (including during sleep). Read on till the end for more on this….

Dr Katyal’s research from observations and tests from 2 main busy Sleep Disorders Units (seeing up to 1000 children each year) has found a strong correlation between children at risk of sleep-disordered breathing and narrow upper jaws.

She states,  “… children with this disorder show reduced attention capability, lower academic grades, hyperactivity, increased aggression, irritability, emotional and peer problems.  Nearly fifty per cent of chronic snorers or those with sleep apnoea have been diagnosed with ADHD. What they may be needing most in their treatment is a good night’s sleep,’’ she says.

Early diagnosis was particularly important to reverse detrimental effects, which were amplified at vulnerable periods in a young child’s development, she said.

“One study showed that 13-year-old children with low academic performance were more likely to have snored during early childhood compared with children of high academic performance,’’ Dr Katyal says.

Part of her research, has shown sleep apnoea was common in children with a narrow jaw and palate (nearly 70 per cent of cases). The link between narrow jaws and palate and poor breathing has already been presented by the scientific advisor of Myofunctional Research Co. in Australia and of Osteopharm Inc. in Canada, Dr German Ramirez.

Also a paediatric dentist of 25 years, Dr Ramirez states that breastfeeding for the first six months of life is instrumental in helping widen the palate and allowing full development of the lower jaw – both of which allow for better breathing during the day and during sleep.  Later on, in childhood a narrow palate can be helped by an orthodontic appliance, or plate to widen the upper jaw. Children best suited to this later treatment were aged between 6 and 16 years.

The outcomes of both researchers also indicated that frequent snorers regularly showed lower quality of life and this was normalised after the expansion of upper jaw by a plate.

While an Adenotonsillectomy, or removal of tonsils, was the first line of treatment for children with OSA, up to half of those with removed tonsils continued to have OSA, Dr Katyal says.

Dr Ramirez’s work has indicated the best time to start orthodontics is from birth – where optimising breastfeeding will help form the palate and face.  How wonderful it is, that we work with families to enable this to happen.

Information about Dr Katayal’s research come from Bite Magazine – a monthly dental periodical.