By Eugena Brooks
As July 2020 comes to a close, we recognize all the work Dr. Christian Guilleminault has done for sleep research. As far back as 1976, Dr. CG discovered that 4% of children suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome. His vision of multi-disciplinary care encompasses craniofacial/myofunctional therapies, and he recognized that our sleep/breathing problems are “Right Under our Nose”. With all of that knowledge, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity that July happens to be Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month #Craniofacial.
Aside from the obvious difficulties children and families experience dealing with these issues, research has shown that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a risk factor for infants and children who may exhibit the symptoms related to cleft and craniofacial conditions.
OSA has been extensively described in the adult population, but its impact in the pediatric population has only recently been recognized. Studies have shown patients with cleft palate have a greater risk for developing OSA.
Previously thought to be a disease only impacting middle-age to older men, we now know that sleep apnea can develop in men, women, and children. Sleep apnea has been associated with a myriad of comorbidities in adults. Now research is revealing numerous issues specific to pediatrics.
Research studies show craniofacial anomalies — such as cleft palate — are among the most common congenital conditions in children. OSA is sometimes diagnosed in children with a variety of craniofacial conditions. They are at increased risk for OSA due to abnormalities in both their facial structure as well as likely upper airway neuromotor deficits. Treatment types are both surgical and non-surgical depending on the child’s condition.