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Toddler snoring linked to behaviour problems

14th August 2012

Researchers in the United States have found a link between behavioural problems and snoring in toddlers.

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Pre-school-age children who snore are at greater risk of developing problems like hyperactivity, problems focusing and depression, according to a study in a recent edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers tracked the progress of a group of 249 children aged two and three, and found that 9% of them snored loudly more than twice a week.

They found that children who did not snore at that age, or who snored at age two or three, but not both, were less likely than the snoring group to develop behavioural problems by the age of three.

However, they said that breastfeeding could provide a protective factor, protecting children from snoring and from potentially associated behavioural problems.

According to researcher Dean Beebe, who directs the neuropsychology program at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, the study had replicated a link found between snoring and behavioural problems in older children.

He said many parents and paediatric specialists were unaware that the correlation between snoring and behaviour problems could manifest in very young children.

Poor quality sleep may be a factor in behavioural problems, and not all snoring will indicate them. For example, children may snore when they have a cold.

However, Beebe said that parents should consult a paediatrician if they were concerned about their toddler's snoring.

He said that new mothers should consider breastfeeding for as long as possible because of the protective effect against snoring in toddlers.

The study found that lower socioeconomic status and shorter periods of breastfeeding were linked to snoring in small children.

According to Richard M. Kravitz, parents should start asking more questions and taking action if their children snore, by seeking expert advice.

But he said that snoring was merely an indicator of a higher risk of behavioural problems. It did not mean that every child who snored would go on to develop them, nor that all children with behavioural problems were snorers.

An evaluation can help determine whether the snoring is something to be concerned about, according to Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Centre in New York.

Other experts said that children who do not sleep well are often bad-tempered and lack a healthy appetite, however.

Yosef Krespi, who directs the Centre for Sleep Disorders at the New York Head and Neck Institute of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, snoring by definition means there is partial airway obstruction during sleep.

This means the person will have diminished oxygen uptake and restless sleep.


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