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Every night I watched my son stop breathing

Milo was diagnosed with OSA aged 4. His mum Rebecca talks about his exhausting experience.

Milo, a young boy with OSA


Milo used to cry before bedtime and say: ‘I don’t want to go to sleep. It makes me tired.’ He was right, sleeping was exhausting for him.

I used to dread it too. It was like watching him submerge underwater where he couldn’t breathe. My husband and I took turns sleeping with him because it didn’t feel safe to leave him alone.

As a baby, Milo’s breathing was very noisy when he was asleep and we noticed pauses – sometimes very long ones – in his breathing from about eight weeks old. As a toddler he snored very loudly, like an old man.

At about two and a half the pauses in breathing got a lot worse. By the age of three he was having apnoeas in his sleep hundreds of times a night, every night.

I took him to the GP many times and we’ve had several trips to A&E over the years, when Milo has stopped breathing. But it took us a very long time to find out what was wrong. I think the problem lies in a lack of awareness among GPs of OSA in children.

I had read about OSA and was convinced that Milo had it, but the doctors I spoke to were dismissive. I finally filmed Milo asleep and showed the GP and pretty much demanded a referral to a consultant.

When we finally saw a doctor at the ear, nose and throat clinic, he looked at the film and thought it was a classic case of OSA. Milo was finally diagnosed, but not before becoming very ill with tonsillitis and a chest infection complicated by OSA and being admitted to the high dependency unit at the hospital.

Milo had an urgent operation to remove his tonsils and adenoids just after his fourth birthday. The procedure was a success and his recovery was pretty quick.

The change has been incredible. Milo had been sleep deprived and oxygen starved for the first four years of his life. He was almost constantly ill – unable to fight infections because he was permanently exhausted and run down.

His illness and exhaustion made him tearful, clingy and prone to major daily tantrums. He was always pale, with dark circles round his eyes and I noticed that he hardly grew at all in the year that he was three.

But now, following the surgery, his breathing is great. He has shot up in height and filled out into a strong, sturdy boy. He is playing sport and is more confident and outgoing. We no longer have the daily tantrums. He is a wonderful, loving, happy and bright little boy.”

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6 December 2014