Everyone has brief pauses in their breathing pattern, which are usually normal. Sometimes though, there are longer pauses in breathing known as apnea. In children, such pauses may cause oxygen levels in the body to decrease temporarily and sleep will be disrupted. Nemours diagnoses and treats several types of apnea in children.
There are several different types of apnea in children:
Obstructive sleep apnea: The most common type of apnea in children is caused by a blockage of the airway (for example, by enlarged tonsils and adenoids). This is most likely to happen during sleep as the throat muscles relax.
Central apnea: When the part of the brain that controls breathing doesn't start or maintain the breathing process properly. This is most common in very premature infants in whom the brain’s respiratory center is immature.
Mixed apnea: A combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea in children is usually a sign of an immature breathing pattern. Mixed apnea may occur when a child is awake or asleep.