A new study links persistent and loud snoring in young children with problem behaviors, including hyperactivity, depression and inattention.
Persistent, loud snoring occurs in about one out of every 10 children, according to the researchers.
The strongest predictors of persistent snoring were lower socioeconomic status and the absence or a shorter duration of breastfeeding, according to Dean Beebe, Ph.D., director of the neuropsychology program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the study.
He advises doctors to screen for snoring, especially in children from poorer families, and refer them for follow-up care.
“Failing to screen, or taking a ‘wait and see’ approach on snoring, could make preschool behavior problems worse,” he said. “The findings also support the encouragement and facilitation of infant breastfeeding.”
The researchers studied 249 children, asking their mothers about the child’s sleep and behaviors. The study showed that children who snored loudly at least twice a week at the age of 2 and 3 had more behavior problems than children who either don’t snore or who snored at 2 or 3 but not at both ages.
“A lot of kids snore every so often, and cartoons make snoring look cute or funny,” Beebe said. “But loud snoring that lasts for months is not normal, and anything that puts young kids at that much risk for behavioral problems is neither cute nor funny.”
“That kind of snoring can be a sign of real breathing problems at night that are treatable. I encourage parents to talk to their child’s doctor about loud snoring, especially if it happens a lot and persists over time.”
Infant breastfeeding, especially over longer periods of time, seemed to protect children against persistent snoring, even after taking into account other factors, including family income, he added.
The study was published online in Pediatrics.