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Diagnosis of Central Sleep Apnea in Babies

Central sleep apnea diagnosis is of paramount importance, especially when it comes to babies, where central sleep apnea can cause many medical complications and even death. The methods used to diagnose this condition are similar to those used for adults, but a few modifications are made to make it easier for your child.

If you notice the symptoms of central sleep apnea in your child such as lack of breath for longer than 20 seconds, you should contact your paediatrician or general doctor as soon as possible ( if you notice that the colour of your babies skin turns blue, call emergency services immediately!).

The Doctor Visit

Once you visit your doctor, he or she will examine your child by giving a physical examination, by conducting different tests and at times an X-ray image may also be taken. Based on the symptoms observed, you may be referred to a sleep specialist (a doctor trained to treat sleep disorders, one of which is central sleep apnea).

Diagnosis of Central Sleep Apnea in Children

Is Your Child Suffering from Central Sleep Apnea?

The sleep specialist will do the following to diagnose central sleep apnea:

    1. Polysomnography in a Laboratory: This is the confirmatory test which will allow for diagnosis of sleep apnea in children with high efficiency and efficacy. This test can be done in two ways, the first will require your child to spend an entire night in a sleep room (a lab where standardized conditions exist, trained specialists will be present for continuous monitoring). As your child sleeps the following will be calculated continuously-
      • Oxygen Concentration: The oxygen concentration present in the blood will be calculated and monitored and recorded
      • Heart Rate: Also recorded will be the heart rate of your child
      • Brain Waves: The brain waves produced as your child sleeps will also be monitored and stored
      • Eye movement: During different periods of sleep, different eye movements will be present, by monitoring them diagnosis can be done for different conditions
    2. Polysomnography from Home: Another option available is to conduct the test at home by using a portable polysomnography machine. While it will do all of the above recordings, the results will not be as exact. This can make it harder to diagnose central sleep apnea in your child.

Making the diagnosis on central sleep apnea

Based on the results of the above tests, the sleep specialist will be able to diagnose central sleep apnea if it is present. Diagnosis is very important, especially in children where symptoms are very low and chances of fatalities and other serious medical conditions are high. If diagnosed early, the central sleep apnea condition can be treated.