Children who snore frequently may develop behavioural problems: The reason explained
If a child snores more than three nights a week, speak with a pediatrician. Several studies have indicated a link between habitual snoring in children and behavioural problems, such as inattention or hyperactivity.
Snoring is quite common, and we all snore once in a while. But why do you snore? When air can't move freely through your nose and throat during sleep, and makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. Children may snore due to blocked nasal passages because of cold or allergies. But if your child snore three or more nights a week, which is termed as habitual snoring, without any apparent reason, it may require medical attention. Several studies have indicated a link between habitual snoring in children and behavioural problems, such as inattention or hyperactivity. However, the exact nature of this relationship had remained unknown until now. A new study, published in Nature Communications, has suggested that behavioural problems in children who snore may be associated with changes in the structure of their brain's frontal lobe.
Snoring is also a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops involuntarily for brief periods of time during sleep. Researchers have found certain brain changes in sleep apnea patients, but whether these changes contribute to the behaviour problems seen in some children with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (oSDB) is not known clearly. Address this knowledge gap was the aim of the new study, which was led by Amal Isaiah, M.D., D.Phil., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The researchers collected data from more than 11,000 children (aged 9- 10 years) to examine the relationships among snoring, brain structure, and behavioural problems.
Habitual snoring and behavioural problems
The analysis of the large and diverse dataset also supported previous findings, providing stronger evidence for a positive correlation between habitual snoring and behavioural problems in children. Based on the assessment completed by parents, the researchers found that children who most frequently snored generally exhibited worse behaviour. The new study also linked snoring to smaller volumes of multiple regions of the brain's frontal lobe, an area involved in cognitive functions such as problem solving, impulse control, and social interactions.
In the researchers suggested that the brain differences seen in children who experience habitual snoring may contribute to behavioural problems. But they underscored the need for additional work to confirm a causal link between snoring, brain structure, and behavioural problems.
Indicating oSDB as a potential reversible cause of behavioural problems in children, the researchers suggested routine screening for snoring so that children who habitually snore may then be referred for follow-up care. While enlarged tonsils or adenoids is the most common condition leading to obstructive sleep apnea in children, obesity may also play a role. Treatment of the conditions that contribute to oSDB may be required while dealing with behavioural problems in children.
Signs Your Child's Snoring Is Not Normal
As research suggests habitual snoring requires treatment. But how do parents know their child's snoring is an issue? Parents should observe their child sleeping patterns as well as daytime symptoms. Poor quality of sleep due to problematic snoring can lead to daytime behavioural issues. If your child snores more than three nights a week and shows one of the following signs, speak with a pediatrician.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common cause of habitual, problematic snoring. It is estimated that about 1 to 4 percent of children have OSA, more commonly diagnosed after age 3. And most cases of OSA in children is caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids.