DEAR DR. ROSENBERG: My 9-year-old has Down Syndrome. She snores and is doing poorly in school. In fact, over the last two years, she seems to be doing much worse. Her teacher is concerned and told me sleep apnea is common in people with Down syndrome. Is this true and why?
A: Yes, the teacher is correct; there is a very high prevalence of sleep apnea with Down syndrome. The causes are multiple including muscular weakness, jaw position, enlarged tongues and enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids. Bottom line is, sleep apnea may be present in 40 to 50 percent of people with Down syndrome. Untreated sleep apnea may further impair your daughter's mental function. I would discuss this with your health care professional.