If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may worry about the possibility of your children getting it too. If an illness or medical issue is inherited – or “genetic” – it is hard to avoid. If it is not genetic, we need to look at how to prevent the issue before it happens or treat it if it becomes an issue.
Sleep apnea is partially genetic.
According to the National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, “A percentage of 35-40% of its variance can be attributed to genetic factors. It is likely that genetic factors associated with craniofacial structure, body fat distribution and neural control of the upper airway muscles interact to produce the OSAS phenotype.”
In other words, some of the factors that lead to sleep apnea are in the composition of the body – the way your body is built. These factors that will make it more likely your children will suffer from sleep apnea are:
- Being male
- Having a larger than average neck size (average is 15 inches circumference for adult men)
- Having large tonsils
- Having a small lower jaw.
Doctors often remove tonsils in patients suffering from sleep apnea, but other factors can’t be helped. Even lower jaw expanders work on teeth, not the palate.
“The lower jaw expander, however, doesn’t expand the jaw because the lower arch doesn’t have a suture which can be closed. A lower expander simply adjusts the teeth. A lower expander can help straighten teeth which lean inward. The lower expander can also spread out the lower teeth when there is sufficient gum tissue and bone surrounding the roots.” (https://www.panorthodontics.com/when-do-you-need-palatal-expansion/)
Sleep Apnea is more likely to be caused by lifestyle, age, and diet.
The likelihood of a person inheriting sleep apnea is approximately 35-40% (some researchers claim the number is higher), but that leaves a larger percentage up to lifestyle and controllable factors.
The non-genetic factors that can cause sleep apnea are:
- >Being Obese
- Alcohol Use
- Drugs (such as tranquilizers, sedatives, opioids, and some others)
- Other medical conditions (heart conditions, stroke patients, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s Disease, hormonal issues, and more).
What Can I Do To Stop My Child From Suffering From Sleep Apnea?
If you suffer from sleep apnea, the chances of your child suffering is only 35%. It is hard to control the genetic factors, but if you monitor the non-genetic factors and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your child, the chances are less.
Before you become too concerned, check with your doctor to be sure your condition is sleep apnea. With a positive diagnosis, our patient support team can help you find the best method of treating it so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Taking care of yourself is the first step to taking care of your child. Once well-rested, you can assess your child’s risk with a clear mind and start planning for healthy changes or the best ways to get treatment.
Sleep apnea is not the end of the world. Our patient care team works with patients nationwide and uses a personalized approach based on your lifestyle. We can help assess the best method for your treatment, work with doctors and insurance, and help get you rested, so that you can live your best life.