2016 Greater Lansing Baby Fair Sponsor: Dr. Susan Maples
Prevent Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Hidden Benefits of Breast-Feeding for a Lifetime of Good Sleep – Dr. Susan Maples, DDS, MSBA
Babies shouldn’t snore. Yet, studies show that one out of four children have a sleeping disorder. In fact, snoring is a big sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is when breathing suddenly stops and then starts again during sleep, which can cause serious health issues for your child. In fact, lack of sleep is associated with behavioral problems, ADHD, and learning disabilities. Luckily, there are ways that new and expecting mothers can prevent sleep problems from happening in the first place.
Of course, many moms and moms-to-be already know that breastfeeding has many benefits for their baby’s health, including a lower risk of asthma and allergies, prevention of viruses and harmful bacteria in infants, and a reduced risk for developing chronic conditions like Type I Diabetes and celiac disease. However, breastfeeding may also help prevent sleeping disorders in infants and children.
Often, sleep disorders result from a narrowed airway. However, when a baby breastfeeds, this can be prevented. Since the anatomic structure of the nipple is more challenging for the baby receive milk from than a bottle, the baby’s tongue gets a “work-out” and is therefore strengthened and conditioned. Strong tongues push up and forward, which expands the palate to make a resting place for itself. Without a strong tongue, the palate remains narrow, which can obstruct the airway during sleep.
If you are an expecting mother or a new mother, try for more one-on-one breastfeeding time. If your baby has trouble latching, consult with a lactation specialist. Also, don’t be discouraged if your baby prefers a bottle to your breast – as it often goes during motherhood, patience is your friend.
Lastly, if you cannot breastfeed or if you need to use a bottle, don’t despair! Choose the Nuk – the bottle which is the most similar in shape to a woman’s nipple. It also comes in graduated sizes which adjust the flow for growth and development.
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