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29 Feb 2024, Edition - 3152, Thursday

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Health Matters

Sleep related issues can be fatal for your child

Indrani Thakurata


How many of us really realise the importance of a good sleep? We treat it very casually; lucky to catch our sleep or we can compromise on that for all our favourite activities. But how many of us know that sleep or sleep related issues can be fatal? And more so in children. No wonder, doctors emphasize on very many hours of sound sleep for babies and the only blessing that parents want for their children. The numbers are alarming; approximately 3,500 babies in the US die each year due to sleep-related problems.

The most number of deaths are due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation. “SIDS or Sudden infant death syndrome is most common sleep related complication associated in early infancy. Making babies sleep in prone position specially during early infancy (before babies achieve complete head control ) can lead to SIDS,” says Dr Yogesh Kumar Gupta , Consultant, Pediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road. The number of children dying in USA due to sleep related issues apparently declined in the 90s because of effective campaigning but it is seeing a rise again. “The truth is that, most of the new mothers have no idea of safe positions and placements.

It is after much reading that I came to know that unsafe sleep positioning means placing the baby on his/her side side or stomach or soft bedding,” says Sandhya Kumar, a mother of a 1-year- old. Though most Indian parents sleep with their children in the same bed and that is considered normal, but in the West, they are completely against it. They encourage the parent to stay in the same room, but the child should be in a crib and not in the
same bed. Another serious sleep related issue is Obstructive sleep disorders, which can be fatal. OSA is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to breathe during sleep. It limits the amount of air that reaches the

“Second common sleep related issue seen in children is OSA syndrome aka obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, occurs in children with upper airway related issues like severe adenoid hypertrophy , short neck with severe obesity can lead to airway obstruction in sleep and decreased oxygen supply leading to hypoxia,” says Dr. Yogesh.

“Some snore very loudly because they find it difficult to breathe. Some common symptoms are: snoring, frequent awakenings, fatigue,” says Sandhya. OSA can cause drug resistant hypertension. So, one has to manage hypertension with medicines. But if one neglects OSA, then they may end up with heart disease.

“Other sleep related deaths in children can be due to Unintentional suffocation, Positional asphyxia, Overlay and some undetermined causes,” says Dr. Yogesh.

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