Sleep disorders and Down syndrome
"According to a 2008 study, children with Down syndrome experience more nighttime awakenings, lower overall sleep time, and lower quality sleep overall, with more time in stage 1 sleep and less time in more restorative REM sleep. Children with Down syndrome also have greater resistance to and anxiety around bedtime than their peers without Down syndrome, with 66 percent falling asleep in a parent’s or sibling’s bed. Almost 20%wake up early, 40% wake at least once during the night."
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Sleep Apnea Problems in Children with DS
It has been said by some experts that 100% of children with DS have sleep apnea. But studies have shown that this is not the case. While the numbers are fairly high at 45%, not all children with DS suffer from OSA.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by several different factors present in DS: the flattened midface, narrowed nasopharyngeal area, low tone of the muscles of the upper airway and enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils.
Why is this important? The first problem is that of the child not getting enough quality sleep and the behavioral effects that brings. Second, during sleep apnea, the oxygenation of the blood decreases. It has been shown that in children with DS and heart disease the low blood oxygenation causes an increase in the blood pressure in the lungs as the body tries to get more oxygen. This "pulmonary hypertension" can cause the right side of the heart to become enlarged and other cardiac complications can follow.
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