Menu Search Donate

Summary of the New Zealand Guidelines for the Assessment of Sleep Disordered Breathing in Childhood

This site does not accept referrals or provide clinical advice in response to questions. If you are a New Zealand health professional seeking clinical advice, please use your local clinical pathway. If you are a New Zealand child patient, parent or caregiver seeking clinical advice, please contact your usual doctor. You can read the full site disclaimer here.

Investigation and Management of suspected Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) in children

This document is a summary of the New Zealand Guidelines for the Assessment of Sleep Disordered Breathing in Childhood. This guideline is intended for GPs and paediatricians involved in the care of children and young people 2 years and older.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition where narrowing of the airways at the back of the nose and throat during sleep is enough to cause a child to have difficulty breathing, or results in pauses in their breathing. The child will then wake up briefly because they cannot breathe properly, often with a loud gasp or snort. Oxygen saturations may or may not be reduced, but sleep can be disrupted.

These episodes can happen many times through the night and the disturbed sleep can result in changes in behaviour during the day such as sleepiness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, poor attention and difficulty learning at school.

What are the risk factors for OSA?

In most children OSA is caused by large tonsils and/or adenoids. Children who are at a higher risk of OSA and complications include those who are overweight/obese, and children with Down syndrome, neuromuscular disease and spina bifida, craniofacial anomalies, achondroplasia, allergies/asthma and other chronic lung disease e.g. Cystic Fibrosis.

How is OSA in children assessed?

How is OSA in children managed?

What follow up is needed?

When is a sleep study necessary?

More From Starship