Sleep Apnea in Childhood Could Mean Future Hypertension

July 10, 2021
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

A lot of what we do when we’re young can catch up to us later in life. Tanning, for example, can cause skin cancer and premature aging. Not taking care of our teeth can cause cavities and the need for restorations (not to mention replacing those restorations), and sports injuries in our youth can follow us through life. But according to a recent study by the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Accredited Training program at Penn State Health in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and published in JAMA Cardiology has found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children could lead to big problems in the future.

The study found that children who had obstructive sleep apnea as they aged from childhood into adolescence were at a higher risk of developing hypertension as adults.

While it is not known if these instances of hypertension are caused by the breathing struggles and inflammation characteristic of sleep apnea, or from obesity that could be causing obstructive sleep apnea, it is a warning bell for parents to remain vigilant in caring for their children’s sleep apnea.

The study also found higher instances of obstructive sleep apnea in male adolescents than they did in female adolescents.

While the study did not mention if treating sleep apnea made an impact on the outcome of the study, doctors agree that leaving sleep apnea untreated can be dangerous – even fatal.

For children with sleep apnea, this fact still holds true.

If your child has sleep apnea, however, there is help. There are treatment options such as CPAP therapy and sleep orthotics. Dr. Mingus offers sleep orthotics, which are custom molded to the individual mouth and comfortably position the airway open. They are often considered more convenient and effective than CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy because they are more likely to be used than CPAP therapy. That’s because CPAP therapy requires the use of a mask and tubing that many find uncomfortable or awkward, and thus don’t use as prescribed.

To learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options, or sleep apnea treatment options for your child, please contact Dr. Mingus today.