While snoring is regarded by many as a harmless “habit”, in reality it is not and may pose a serious problem down the line, especially for young children.
In fact, a study was undertaken by researchers for the Journal Pediatrics( Wood J, 2012) found that children who snore on a frequent basis had a more than 300% increased risk of developing behavioural problems as they progress in age.
The study analyzed children aged 2 and 3, and found that those who snored consistently at both those ages, were the ones most likely to develop the problems. Approximately 35% of these children demonstrated behavioural issues after starting school, compared to just 12% and 10% for those children that snored either one year or never respectively. Although a definitive link has not been made as to the reason for the behavioural disorders, it is believed to be due to the decreased quality of sleep those children may be getting. The study reiterates the importance of sleep, especially in growing children.
These disorders frequently included ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), bouts of aggression, withdrawal or even depression.
The first telltale sign of a sleeping disorder in children is grumpiness. Children are by nature happy go lucky beings, with not a care in this world. However, if a child is noticed as being strangely irritable or cranky, there is a good chance sleep deprivation is at hand. Another study carried out sought to show the differences in following tasks in two groups of children; one that took an afternoon nap, and another group that didn’t. They were given a task to do, and it was clear that the group without the nap experienced much more difficulty or frustration when dealing with the task compared to the other group. It is for this reason the “power nap” is advocated, even in adults.
The second sign is snoring itself. Snoring is generally only acceptable in children following development of a cold or a sinus infection. In these cases, breathing becomes difficult or labored and snoring is normal. However, snoring that persists beyond the duration of the cold, or that occurs frequently in a seemingly healthy child warrants investigation.
The lack of sleep (or poor quality) experienced by preschool children will have far reaching consequences. The child will most likely struggle in school, and may have difficulties interacting with children of their age. Secondly, their mood is going to be taken as a new normal, leading to changes in the way they are treated by their parents. The parents may come to accept the child as difficult, and try to enforce harsh judgment on them; this in turn makes the child act out more.
Lack of sleep during these developmental years in children results in poor linkage between neurons in the brain that facilitate cognition and behavioural adaptation.
Factors That Raise Likelihood of Developing Behavioural Disorders
- Bottle Feeding- while not set in stone, children who are solely or predominantly fed the bottle are more likely to develop snoring. Breast feeding forces the child to develop mechanisms to feed, since it is more challenging. This lack of challenge with bottle feeding can result in an under compensation of jaw muscles and necessary breathing anatomy and hinder development.
- Socio-economic Status- children born into poorer or low income homes also have a much higher chance of behavioural anomalies. Inadequate nutrition, to sanitation and air quality all play supporting role in enduring a child’s development, and may be absent in poor households.
Snoring that is not related to the common cold or sinus problems should not be dismissed or viewed as transient; if your vigilance as a parent sees it as abnormal, consult your healthcare professional for guidance.
Category: Sleep Disorders