Why does my child have sleep apnea?

I think that my son has sleep apnea. He keeps waking up in the middle of the night not being able to breathe. But I thought sleep apnea was a disease for older people. Why does my child have sleep apnea? How does the treatment for sleep apnea change when treating a child?

Doctors Answers (2)

Richard L. Jacobson, D.M.D., M.S.
Answered on: 2/21/2014

There are very effective treatments to treat and prevent sleep apnea, but a doctor would need to know more.

Joseph Lee, DDS, FICOI
Answered on: 2/19/2014

Sleep apnea in a child may mean their tonsils or adenoids are too large and need to be removed. If that doesn't resolve their apnea, then orthodontics to expand their jaws may be another treatment. CPAP wouldn't be a great choice, since it would negatively affect the development of their jaw and facial bones.