Snoring tied to kids' risk of behavioral problems: study

Tue Mar 6, 2012 8:05pm EST
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(Reuters) - Young children who snore a lot or have other breathing problems at night may have a heightened risk of behavioral and emotional problems later in life, according to a U.S. study of more than 10,000 children.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is not the first to link behavioral issues to so-called sleep-disordered breathing -- where children chronically snore, mouth-breathe or seem to stop breathing for seconds at a time, known as apnea.

"We didn't invent the association," said lead researcher Karen Bonuck, at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

But the work by her team, which followed more than 13,000 children from infancy to the age of seven, is the largest study yet to examine the issue, she added.

Of those children, 45 percent remained free of nighttime breathing problems, according to reports from parents. The rest had symptoms at some point during infancy or early childhood.

Eight percent of the children fell into what researchers dubbed the "worst case" group, with breathing problems that peaked between the ages of two and three, and then persisted.

Overall, Bonuck's team found, children with sleep-disordered breathing at any time were more likely to develop symptoms of behavioral or emotional disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety, by age seven.

About 13.5 percent had such symptoms at age seven, versus just over eight percent of children who'd been free of sleep-disordered breathing.

The biggest risk was seen in the worst-case group. By age 7, nearly 18 percent of those children had possible behavioral or emotional disorders.   Continued...