Here’s some heartbreaking news that was recently published in the Wall Street Journal and commented on at KevinMD: That 25% of all children in the United States is on regular prescription medications. According to the report, 45 million children are on asthma medications, 24 million on ADHD medications, another 10 million on antidepressants and 6.5 million on antipsychotics. You also have the antihypertensives, sleeping pills, diabetes medications, and high cholesterol medications. This list doesn’t include prescriptions used in acute situations or over-the-counter medications.
You might be asking by now, “What does all this have to do with sleep apnea?”
My answer is, everything. If you happen to follow my blog, I’ve shown studies linking obstructive sleep apnea to almost every chronic health condition out there. This is based on published, peer-reviewed studies. What I did was only to connect all the dots, so to speak, to conceive of my sleep-breathing paradigm: That all modern humans, due to jaw underdevelopment, have various degrees of sleep-breathing problems, where only the end result is called obstructive sleep apnea. This problem begins while you’re an infant, and is aggravated by dietary and behavioral factors such as bottle-feeding, thumb-sucking, and eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). It’s also possible that the back to sleep campaign (although it lowered the SIDS rate by 40%), by forcing infants to sleep on their backs, may inadvertently prevent quality deep sleep in infants. Babies need good amounts of deep sleep for memory consolidation and brain development.
We also know that multiple breathing pauses can cause your stomach juices to reflux into your throat, and then into your lungs (or nose). This can cause various degrees of inflammation. Neurologically, your lungs will tend to over-react to weather changes, such as cold air, or even temperature or humidity changes. Breathing problems can also cause poor quality sleep, leading to major alterations in your brain biochemistry.
Poor sleep can also aggravate or promote the onset of depression. Faulty neurotransmitters or even structural damage from poor sleep can also cause your brain signals to misfire, or activate disinhibition of certain behaviors.
It’s no wonder that in one way or another there are studies (or will be studies) that connect all the various medical conditions already mentioned to one another. So it’s not too far fetched to argue that a large proportion of these children on chronic long-term medications may also have some kind of a sleep-breathing problem.
What do you think about my arguments? A realistic, but scary possibility, or too far fetched?