Sleep is a very core part of body homeostasis. It is especially important in babies because their bodies have just started to adjust to the “action and rest rhythm” and the stability that comes with it. It also contributes to the overall growth regulation in the baby and the eventual strength of the immune system. Sleep apnea disorder is not good for your baby’s wellbeing. Learn in this post the best ways how to prevent sleep apnea in babies.
Considering the immense part sleep has to play in your baby’s health, you should definitely watch out for and avoid as many sleep issues as possible.
Among other forms of sleep disorders associated with babies, sleep Apnea is particularly dangerous. The extent of the damage it can cause depends largely on the type of apnea the baby suffers from.
Sometimes, it is easy to confuse symptoms of this disorder with some other random illness in babies. For the purpose of clarity, let’s examine some of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea in babies.
What Symptoms Will A Baby With Apnea Display
You have every reason to suspect that your baby has sleep apnea, when;
- The baby’s breathing pauses during sleep for a duration longer than 20 seconds
- Baby gasps for air during sleep on repeated occasions
- The baby breathes through the mouth instead of the nose on multiple occasions
- Baby chokes repeated times while sleeping
- The baby’s breathing has repeated pauses at regular intervals (even in durations lesser than 20 seconds).
- When the baby has an unusually slow heartbeat.
- The baby snores, snorts or breaths too loudly when sleeping (especially on multiple occasions)
- When the baby sleeps in an unusually awkward position.
In extreme cases, the baby loses consciousness, especially during snorting or gasping for air while sleeping.
Common Causes Of Sleep Apnea In Babies
If you indeed intend to prevent something, you must have adequate information about its possible causes. Due to that, here are some of the most common causes of sleep Apnea in babies;
Baby overweight especially during the first couple of months after birth – if not watched, can trigger a series of health issues, sleep Apnea inclusive. An overweight baby may likely have the snoring and slow heartbeat symptom, among others
Premature birth means the underdevelopment of some vital organs in the baby. In some of these instances, the baby’s respiratory structure coupled with the mechanism meant to regulate breathing may be underdeveloped. This may lead to sleeping apnea in the baby.
Some infections to the upper and lower respiratory tract may limit the effectiveness of oxygen intake and expulsion. Infections to the part of the brain that controls the involuntary muscles of the respiratory organs may also trigger apnea. These infections may be bacterial, fungal, or even viral.
Anaemia – a disease of the blood translates to insufficient oxygen transport and circulation in the body. The implications of this are adverse and diverse, and it may also include sleeping apnea in mild cases.
Some drugs affect the body’s respiratory function because of their effect on the cerebrum or the neuromuscular junctions of the respiratory structures. This may trigger some regulatory delay that may be responsible for sleeping apnea in your baby.
Family History of the disorder
Apnea is often genealogically traceable. Babies are more susceptible to this sleeping disorder if someone in their ancestry has suffered from it before.
Other causes of apnea may include lung infections, overweight at birth, acid reflux, enlarged tonsils, metabolic disorders, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, underdevelopment of some features in the face, seizures, tumors in respiratory pathways, Pierre Robin Syndrome among others.
How to prevent Sleep Apnea in babies
1. Watch your Baby’s weight
This is especially important for babies who are naturally predisposed to fat accumulation. You should particularly take note of the calorie and fat consumption of your baby. You also take care to engage your baby in little exercises when you notice a rapid outshoot in general body fat and weight.
2. Always Keep Your Baby Away From Smoke
You need always to find a way to protect your babies from inhaling too much smoke. This is particularly necessary if you live in an urban area. It is possible that over-exposure to vehicular smoke and similar aerosols may cause obstructions in their respiratory pathways. At worse, this exposure could cause respiratory tract infection that may induce apnea (of course, along with other dangerous symptoms).
3. Make Sure Your Babies Sleep on their Back
It is possible and normal if your baby has different sleeping positions. Some babies are tummy sleepers, and some sleep with their left or right sides. However, the most advisably healthy sleeping position would be for the baby to sleep on their back. Other sleeping positions – especially tummy sleeping – could trigger obstructive apnea even in the most unlikely baby.
4. Keep Your Babies Away From Things That Trigger Their Allergies
You need to be able to identify the things your baby is allergic to and prevent them from having contact with them. It is common knowledge that allergies sometimes manifest in the form of breathing disorders. This may, in turn, predispose the baby to sleep apnea.
5. A Pacifier May Reduce Apnea Risks In Babies
For babies who are predisposed to sleeping apnea, like overweight babies and babies with genetically induced anaemia, this is especially true. It is better to use pacifiers for these babies to get them to sleep. Not just that, you may also need it to put them back to sleep at the show of any inconvenience. A pacifier is a nipple substitute that gives the child the feel of what seems like sucking a mother’s breast.
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6. Giving your baby warmth
Indeed, cold is not directly linked with sleeping apnea. However, take it seriously and make sure your baby gets enough warmth. A case of cough or catarrh (and other similar damages to the respiratory tract) may create the background for the sleeping Apnea disorder.
Have you ever sat down and observed what happens to you when you miss a day’s sleep? Sometimes, lack of sleep takes on the form of fever, mental illness, mood swings, and a whole lot of other things. This may not exactly be the case with babies due to their ever occurring growth. With the knowledge of that, you can imagine the impact of the inability to sleep on the baby, mainly because they have just started to grow. As a parent, irrespective of how minute it may look, you must watch for and prevent your baby from anything that may expose them to sleep apnea.