Obstructive sleep apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a breathing disorder affecting babies and children who have Down syndrome.
Around 750 babies each year are born with Down syndrome in the UK. Estimates suggest that the majority will also suffer OSA.
A child with OSA will stop breathing for a few seconds at a time during their sleep. This happens several times a night and when breathing starts again, the child may gulp for air. Each time this happens oxygen levels in their blood fall, which can be harmful to the child.
If untreated, children with OSA may fail to grow as quickly as expected and OSA also affects their ability to pay attention, their learning, behaviour and school performance. Unfortunately, these effects of OSA may be overlooked and assumed to be part of living with Down syndrome.
OSA can also put extra strain on the hearts of children with Down syndrome, around half of whom are born with heart problems.