Home » News » Sleep Apnea Can Influence Child Behavior

Sleep Apnea Can Influence Child Behavior

childAccording to some experts, although it’s often labeled attention deficit disorder, the real problem behind thousands of children’s behavior problems could actually be sleep apnea.

Ear, nose and throat physicians report enlarged tonsils can cause obstructive sleep apnea in children—causing them to stop breathing repeatedly during the night resulting in sleep deprivation.

“If kids aren’t sleeping at night it can affect their school work and mental development,” says Stephen Landers, M.D., ear, nose and throat physician on the medical staff at Our Children’s House at Baylor.

According to experts, thousands of children with sleep apnea caused by enlarged tonsils are sometimes actually misdiagnosed with learning disabilities.

“If children are allowed to sleep properly a lot of these behavioral issues are improved,” adds Dr. Landers.

So how do you know if your child’s ADD, ADHD or other behavioral problems may actually be caused by sleep apnea? Experts say to observe your child while they sleep at night. Are they snoring loudly or making gasping or snorting noises? These could all be signs of sleep apnea and should be brought to the attention of your family physician.

In adults, sleep apnea is often caused by excess weight, but in 90 percent of pediatric cases, it is caused by enlarged tonsils. Fortunately, a tonsillectomy can usually treat obstructive sleep apnea in children.

Source: Baylor Health Care System

Sleep Apnea Can Influence Child Behavior

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Sleep Apnea Can Influence Child Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.