Snoring Could Lead To Hyperactivity In Children
March 5, 2012

Snoring Could Lead To Hyperactivity In Children

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According to a new study, children with Sleep-Disordered Breathing (Or SDB) are more likely to develop behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness.

In their newest study, the largest of its kind, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University studied more than 11,000 children for more than 6 years. The results of this study were published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers believe that the different forms of SDB (apnea or snoring, for example) can harm developing brains, and thereby create these behavioral disorders.

Karen Bonuck, Ph.D., professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein and study leader urges parents to look more deeply at these cases of SDB: “Parents and pediatricians alike should be paying closer attention to SDB in young children, perhaps as early as the first year of life.”

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Health and Neck Surgery, about 2 to 4 percent of children have sleep apnea, while around 1 out of every 10 children snore regularly.

Researchers began their study by asking parents to fill out questionnaires about their child´s SDB symptoms. These parents filled out the questionnaires at different stages of their child´s life, from 6 months to 69 months. Then, when their children were anywhere from 4 to 7 years old, researchers gave the parents a Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The SDQ measured prosocial behavior (sharing with others, being kind), conduct problems (aggressiveness and breaking the rules), emotional symptoms (depression or anxiety), peer problems, and inattention and hyperactivity.

According to a recent press release, Dr. Bonuck stated “We found that children with SDB were from 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop neurobehavioral problems by age 7, compared with children without breathing problems.” Though there were increases in each of the five behavioral measures, hyperactivity saw the largest increase, according to the study.

While SDB may cause fatigue and extreme tiredness in adults, the effects of SDB can be even worse on children.

Researchers believe these breathing issues could cause behavioral problems by reducing the amount of oxygen in the brain. Without a strong and steady supply of oxygen, the brains “restorative processes” can be interrupted, thereby causing a chemical imbalance. This kind of chemical imbalance can have adverse affects on the behavior of children.

This study is the first to link these two symptoms together.

Dr. Bonuck stated ““¦this study shows clearly that symptoms do precede behavioral problems and strongly suggests that they are causing these problems.”

If parents suspect that their child has symptoms of SDB, Dr. Bonuck suggests seeing a specialist.

“If (parents) suspect that their child is showing symptoms of SDB, they should ask their pediatrician or family physician if their child needs to be evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) or sleep specialist."

By detecting and treating the symptoms of SDB early, parents can help to eliminate possible behavioral problems in the future.


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