April 16, 2009

Snoring Tots May Be At Risk For Behavioral Problems

Scientists in Helsinki, Finland have recently released a report indicating that children between the ages of 3 and 6 who snore are also at a higher risk for problems with depression, anxiety, ADHD and language skills compared with their prepubescent counterparts.

The study examined 43 preschoolers whose parents reported that they snored at least once a week and compared them to a control group of 46 preschoolers who did not snore.  Among the youngsters who snored, researchers observed a significantly higher incidence of mood-related problems; most notably depression and anxiety.

"Our study brings out snoring as a possible risk factor for mood problems and cognitive impairment in preschool-aged children," said Dr. Eeva T. Aronen of the Helsinki University Central Hospital.

"Overall, 22 percent of snoring children had mood disorder symptoms severe enough to warrant clinical evaluation, compared to 11 percent of the children who did not snore," explained Dr. Aronen.

Other results mentioned by the report, published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, stated that children who snore were also far likelier to suffer from other sleep-related problems such as chronic nightmares, talking in their sleep and difficulties falling asleep.

"Surprisingly and against our expectations, behavioral types of problems, such as aggressive and hyperactive behavior, were no more frequent among preschool-aged children who snored in this study," added Aronen.

According to Dr. Michael Schechter, a pediatric pulmonologist and epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, about 12 percent of kids under the age of 10 qualify as chronic snorers, compared to over 30 percent in adults. The sound of snoring can indicate a sleep problem that may be either neurological or caused by a blockage in airways that can potentially lead to sleep apnea, said Schechter. 

Sleep apnea, particularly common in adults over the age of 50, is an interruption in breathing that triggers mini-awakenings throughout the night as the sleeper struggles to catch a breath. In other cases, the noise of the snoring alone is enough to disrupt sleep.

Researchers involved in the Finnish study believe that a better understanding of sleep disorders associated with snoring will assist pediatricians in better diagnosing and treating the behavioral problems associated with them.

"This makes intervening possible before underachieving at school or before more difficult emotional and/or behavioral symptoms develop," stated the report.


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