Many adults are familiar with sleep apnea, a condition that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, often multiple times per hour and hundreds (if not thousands) of times per night.
You may not have apnea yourself, but you probably know someone who does; about 22 million American adults are estimated to have this condition. Sleep apnea is dangerous over the long term, contributing to heart disease and stroke risk, cognitive problems, and daytime fatigue. Exhaustion from untreated apnea can cause workplace and vehicular accidents and can trigger or worsen the severity of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders and mental illness.
Sleep apnea is less prevalent in children than adults, but still a pressing concern. According to studies cited by the American Sleep Apnea Association, up to 4% of children ages 8 and under may have sleep apnea. Cases of pediatric apnea are important to detect and treat because children are susceptible to all the same health problems as adults with apnea—as well as additional dangers, such as growth and developmental problems and symptoms of ADHD.