WSVN — Does your child have trouble focusing in school? Are they hyperactive? Or the opposite — walking around like a zombie? They may be suffering from a serious sleep disorder. 7’s Lynn Martinez shows us why so many children are ‘young and restless.’

The first sign Erika Dambreville knew something was going on when she heard snoring coming from her daughter’s room.

She ended up sleeping next to the 3-year-old every night … watching over her like a hawk. That’s when she realized her daughter Yesenia would stop breathing during the night!

Erika Dambreville: “Whenever I would feel that she was cold, I would shake her and then she would breathe in, she would go, ‘Aaahhhh!'”

During the day… the toddler had no energy.

Erika Dambreville: “She always had bags under her eyes because she didn’t sleep. She didn’t look like a happy kid.”

After dozens of trips to the doctor, they were finally sent to the Sleep Disorders Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

The next morning Erika got the urgent call.

Erika Dambreville: “They said your daughter’s dying.”

She was in shock! Yesenia had obstructive sleep apnea and needed surgery right away.

Erika Dambreville: “She was dying, she wasn’t breathing, she would completely stop breathing, completely.”

Turns out this serious sleep problem isn’t only an issue for adults.

Dr. Marcel Deray, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital: “Sleep apnea is very common in children. Particularly between the ages of 2 and 6.”

But pediatric sleep experts say there is a big difference when it comes to how it affects children.

Dr. Marcel Deray: “The kids react differently.”

While adults tend to get drowsy during the day, some kids act out!

Dr. Marcel Deray: “So they can have behavioral problems, they can have hyperactivity.”

And it can affect their behavior in class.

Dr. Marcel Deray: “They can have attention problems, they can have a decline in school, they can have moodiness.”

That’s led to many kids being misdiagnosed with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — as many as 25 percent!

Dr. Marcel Deray: “There’s definitely a number of different studies that show a correlation between ADHD and sleep apnea.”

And if the sleep disorder goes untreated, it can lead to major health problems down the road.

Dr. Marcel Deray: “You could see kids coming here literally in congestive heart failure because it can damage your heart and your lungs.”

Yesenia’s tonsils and adenoids had to be removed because they were blocking her airway while she slept.

Her mom says after the procedure … she was like a different child.

Erika Dambreville: “She was running around, she was playing.”

Now 11 years old, Yesenia says she’s catching up on all the sleep she missed!

Yesenia Danbreville: “I love my bed! I would marry my bed if I could!”

She loves to draw and smiles all the time now. The exact opposite of when she was younger.

Yesenia Danbreville: “I felt like she was living with a zombie, like I was a zombie ’cause I couldn’t breathe.”

Erika says her family functions better because they’re all getting a good night’s sleep — giving hope to the ‘young and restless’ for more peaceful nights to come.

Experts say if your child snores, that could be a sign of sleep apnea. Talk to your pediatrician about enrolling them in a sleep study.

In the Plex, Lynn Martinez, 7News.


Nicklaus Children’s Hospital:
To Schedule Sleep Lab Appointment:
Tel: (305) 663-8413

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