Is Your Precious Little One a Little Monster? Snoring May Be the Problem

A new study suggests that infants who snore are more likely to have behavioral problems later in life.

Sure, they may look sweet and innocent now, but once they’re awake your children may be a handful. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Raul A.

Parents, you might want to rethink sending your hyperactive, poorly behaved child to bed early. Sleep may actually be the root of the problem for a child who has the tendency to snore, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics.

In the largest study of this kind, researchers observed 11,000 children for their first six years of life. Children who snored were found to be 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop a variety of emotional and social barriers later in life, including hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and aggressiveness.

While snoring is often regarded as a problem for moms and pops—and those within hearing distance of them—one estimate suggests that about one in ten children snores regularly. In addition, 2 to 4 percent have sleep apnea, which is characterized by abnormal breathing during sleep.

So how do these nightly stirrings cause such harm?

Many researchers point out that the amount of oxygen your brain is depleted while snoring, which disrupts the body’s behavior at a cellular level.

Infants between 6 and 18 months old are particularly susceptible to the consequences of snoring; it was estimated that they are 40 to 50 percent more prone to behavioral problems by age 7.

It’s not enough for physicians to inquire about how your child is sleeping, said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Karen Bonuck. “Instead, physicians need to specifically ask parents whether their children are experiencing one or more of the symptoms—snoring, mouth breathing, or apnea—of sleep-disordered breathing,” she wrote.

The findings provide some hope for parents and their children who may have received medication to treat ADD or ADHD. In some cases, better sleep may be the solution. The authors recommend parents be proactive and have their child or children thoroughly evaluated at a young age. In other words, don’t sleep on it.

See an abstract of the study here.