Kids' Snoring Linked to Hyperactivity

Einstein Study: Abnormal Breathing During Sleep Linked to Increased Risk for Behavioral Difficulties

A study of more than 11,000 children followed for over six years has found that young children with sleep-disordered breathing are prone to developing behavioral difficulties such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness, as well as emotional symptoms and difficulty with peer relationships, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their study, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind, was recently published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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“This is the strongest evidence to date that snoring, mouth breathing, and apnea [abnormally long pauses in breathing during sleep] can have serious behavioral and social-emotional consequences for children,” said study leader Karen Bonuck, Ph.D., professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein. “Parents and pediatricians alike should be paying closer attention to sleep-disordered breathing in young children, perhaps as early as the first year of life.”

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a general term for breathing difficulties that occur during sleep. Its hallmarks are snoring (which is usually accompanied by mouth breathing) and sleep apnea. SDB reportedly peaks from two to six years of age, but also occurs in younger children. About 1 in 10 children snore regularly and 2 to 4 percent have sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Health and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). Common causes of SDB are enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

“Until now, we really didn’t have strong evidence that SDB actually preceded problematic behavior such as hyperactivity,” said Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., M.S., a co-author of the study and professor of sleep medicine and of neurology at the University of Michigan. “Previous studies suggesting a possible connection between SDB symptoms and subsequent behavioral problems weren’t definitive, since they included only small numbers of patients, short follow-ups of a single SDB symptom, or limited control of variables such as low birth weight that could skew the results. But this study shows clearly that SDB symptoms do precede behavioral problems and strongly suggests that SDB symptoms are causing those problems.” Read full article at Einstein News

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