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Obstructive sleep apnea is not uncommon in childhood and can result in severe consequences if left untreated.
The effects of obstructive sleep apnea in childhood can include lack of growth, heart problems, high blood pressure, and problems with brain development. Specifically, obstructive sleep apnea can cause what is in general referred to as neurocognitive deficits, which include poor learning/learning disability, behavioral problems, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). if a patient with seizures has sleep apnea, the sleep apnea can worsen the seizures, but sleep apnea itself does not specifically cause seizures.
The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in children include enlarged tonsills/adenoids. Other causes of sleep apnea include neurologic problems (which lead to central sleep apnea). Obesity can also play a role. Diagnosis is with a sleep study (a polysomnogram, PSG). Treatment may include tonsil or adenoid removal, CPAP, or other measures.
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