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Sleep Apnea in Children

Read one mother's exhaustive journey to find out what was wrong with her son.

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"At 15 months, Jakob was a complete maniac," said Amy Moran, a parent who knows well the price one pays when a child cannot get adequate sleep. "I cried myself to sleep night after night thinking I had given birth to the next Jeffrey Dahmer. I thought he'd grow up and be a serial killer. He seemed like such a horrible kid."

At 2 years, Jake slept only a few hours each night, and was a raging terror all day, every day. "At restaurants he would jump out of his high chair then run over to another table and dump food off the plates of complete strangers," Moran said. "Out in public, he would randomly run up to older men and punch them in the groin. We couldn't go anywhere. We'd get kicked out of hotels because he'd scream so loud; we'd get kicked out of restaurants and told not to come back. It was a nightmare."

Getting Answers

By the time Jake was 3, Moran was exhausted and drained, but she was resolved to find the answer to her son's perpetual acting-out. She took a year off from work and began a medical journey that started with her family doctor, who told her this case was out of his league.   

From there Jake was taken to more than 20 doctors - a behavioral specialist ("Jake  mooned him and called him a stupid dinosaur poopie head."), psychiatrist, eye doctor, hearing specialist, allergist, gastrointestinal specialist, to name a few. But no one had the answer, until she was referred to a sleep medicine expert.

At 2 years, Jake Moran slept only a few hours each night, and was a raging terror all day, every day, says his mother, Amy.

Sleep Medicine to the Rescue

With one last pathway to hope, Moran took Jake to the University of South Florida Sleep Center in Tampa. A sleep study showed Jake had "the most severe case of sleep apnea they had ever seen in a child," Moran said. It also was discovered that Jake's adenoids were four times the normal size.

He was quickly scheduled for an adenotonsillectomy.

And here's the happy ending. "Within 90 days Jake went from being a maniac to the most docile, loveable child you can imagine. He's in elementary school now, and he's doing great - on the honor roll. And he's completely normal," said his proud mother.

In the end, it was all about sleep. There were no behavioral problems, no ADHD (as suggested by a psychiatrist), and certainly Jake had no criminal leanings. All Jake really needed was a good night's sleep.

Contact Valerie Neff Newitt at

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I had a similar experience when my daughter was wetting her bed at age 5, when she never had done it before. She was treated for a UTI but symptoms persisted for over a year. The pediatrician told me to take her to a urologist but I knew that was not the solution. A physician I worked with suggested I take her to an ENT after a school nurse said she had sleep apnea while napping in the school office. As soon as her tonsils and adenooids were removed, the bedwetting stopped. I told the pediatrician this and the response was, "I'm glad you figured it out". I told them so they wouldn't put another family through the same thing but there obviously wasn't much concern on their part.

Tammy Trahan,  RNOctober 31, 2011
Stratford, CT

This is too thought provoking to ignore. Posting this on my FB page to get the word out to others.

Ellon Allen,  Charge NurseOctober 19, 2011
Stuart, FL

I am a school nurse and I found this article very interesting. I am printing it off to give to some parents whose child sound just like Jake.

Ginger Sellers,  RNOctober 19, 2011
Ennis, TX


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