Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, is fairly common in children with Down syndrome. By adulthood, one out of every two persons with Down syndrome has sleep apnea. It is not always associated with obesity in this population, and may be related to low tone in the airways and structural abnormalities. It’s important for nurses to report any symptoms of sleep apnea, including:

In some cases, surgery is indicated to avoid hypoxia and cor pulmonale. Other children may benefit from supplemental oxygen under pressure, such as a CPAP machine provides. Nurses working with this population can play a key role in promoting and reinforcing correct and regular use of these devices.

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Snoring is a normal part of Down syndrome, and occurs because of airway abnormalities. It is not a significant symptom to report to the primary healthcare provider.