Snoring Causes Behavioral Problems In Kids
August 14, 2012

Snoring Can Cause Behavioral Problems In Preschool Children

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

A new study looked at the effects of snoring for children between the ages of two and three years of age. The investigators sought to look at how persistent snoring affected the behavioral and cognitive development as well as to understand the predictors of snoring in children of that age.

According to the Cincinnati Children´s Hospital Medical Center researchers, loud snoring is thought to increase in children who are two to three years of age. Past research has shown that it is related to behavior problems for school-aged children. However, no studies have looked at the effect of snoring for preschool-aged children.

"A lot of kids snore every so often, and cartoons make snoring look cute or funny. But loud snoring that lasts for months is not normal, and anything that puts young kids at that much risk for behavioral problems is neither cute nor funny," Dean Beebe, director of Cincinnati Children´s Hospital Medical Center neuropsychology program, said in a prepared statement. "That kind of snoring can be a sign of real breathing problems at night that are treatable."

According to CNN, about one in every 10 children engages in persistent snoring. This is the first study to examine the effect of continual snoring on preschool children and the scientists determined that persistent snorers had more behavior problems such as depression, inattention, and hyperactivity. The findings are featured in a recent edition of Pediatrics.

"The strongest predictors of persistent snoring were lower socioeconomic status and the absence or shorter duration of breast-feeding," explained Beebe. "This would suggest that doctors routinely screen for and track snoring, especially in children from poorer families, and refer loudly-snoring children for follow-up care."

In the study, 249 mother/child pairs were included in a prospective birth cohort study. Children were categorized as nonsnorers, transient snorers, or persistent snores based on self-reporting by parents on their children who snored two times or more during a given week. Transient snorers were those who snored at two or three years of age, while persistent snores snored at both ages. Researchers called the mothers every three months until the infant turned 18 months, and then called every six months after. They also conducted in person interviews during yearly home and clinic visits. Measurements were obtained during visits that correlated with the child´s second and third birthdays.

In the published paper, the investigators discussed how a number of factors could be at play. For one, children may have poor sleep quality, which leads them to be tired and frustrated. On the other hand, based on animal research, kids may be affected by apnea, which decrease oxygen levels and impairs the brain circuitry. Furthermore, factors such as family income and exposure to cigarette smoke could impact the likelihood of snoring for children.

According to Reuters, the results of the study do not prove that breathing problems cause behavioral problems. Improvement of kids´ behavior is also not directly related to treatment of causes for snoring. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that pediatricians discuss kids' snoring with parents. Treatment options include operations to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids as well as continuous positive airway pressure. The study didn´t analyze the results of these various treatments.

Overall, the researchers recommend that there be routine screening and tracking of snoring, especially for those children who are from a low socioeconomic background. Follow-ups should also give to children who are seen as persistent snorers. Lastly, doctors should encourage more parents to participate in infant breastfeeding.

"Failing to screen, or taking a 'wait and see' approach on snoring, could make preschool behavior problems worse," noted Beebe in the CNN article. "The findings also support the encouragement and facilitation of infant breast-feeding."