New center dedicated to treating children’s sleep disorders is first of its kind in San Antonio

A new center helps children with sleep disorders to keep them from suffering long-term effects.

Pediatric sleep experts report that 25 percent of children in the United States experience some type of sleep disorder. Problems can include sleepwalking, insomnia, narcolepsy, snoring, sleep apnea and others.

Thanks to generous funding, staff support and clinic space provided by Christus Santa Rosa Health Care, the Health Science Center has established San Antonio’s first-ever sleep center dedicated solely to the research and treatment of pediatric sleep disorders. The Pediatric Sleep Center officially opened its doors to patients April 20. Karen Hentschel-Franks, D.O., a pediatric pulmonologist and an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the Health Science Center, is the center’s medical director.

“Many people think sleep disorders only affect adults and the elderly. But children are just as susceptible,” Dr. Hentschel-Franks said. “The understanding and treatment of pediatric sleep disorders is fairly new. Parents and pediatricians often aren’t aware of the signs and symptoms, so sleep disorders in children often go unnoticed. When not treated, a child’s lack of sleep can cause behavioral problems, memory lapses and poor concentration in school. Teens who drive are at higher risk for automobile accidents. Long-term side effects can range anywhere from pulmonary hypertension to heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.”

The Pediatric Sleep Center features four rooms equipped with state-of-the-art systems that monitor a child’s breathing, heart rate and body movements during sleep. Each room provides a bed for the child and a parent to spend a night. Surveillance cameras in each room allow sleep technicians to effectively evaluate the child’s sleep patterns. The clinic is available to children ages newborn to 18.

“Our goal is to diagnose sleep disorders in children as early as possible before they lead to more serious health problems,” Dr. Hentschel-Franks said.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a child, call Patty Gibson, Pediatric Sleep Center manager, at (210) 704-2091.

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