Snoring isn’t good for children

The Pediatric Insider

© 2012 Roy Benaroch, MD

In children, snoring may be more of a problem than we thought.

A September, 2012 prospective study of 249 preschool children looked at parent-reported rates of persistent, loud snoring. About 10% of the 2-3 year old children in this sample had persistent, loud snoring—and these kids were much more likely to have significant behavior problems including hyperactivity, inattention, and symptoms of depression. Higher rates of snoring were found in homes with smokers, households with lower socioeconomic status, and among children who weren’t breast-fed—but even after controlling for these factors, snoring itself seemed to be associated with these behavior problems.

Previous studies have already documented that snoring is associated with poor school performance in older children, as well as decreased attention in adults. We also know that in its more severe form, snoring is associated with sleep apnea, which can cause heart and lung problems in adults if untreated.

Parents can look out for these signs of possible sleep apnea in their children:

  • Frequent snoring (> 2 – 3 times per week)
  • Labored breathing during sleep
  • Gasps/snorting during sleep
  • Prolonged bedwetting
  • Sleeping in a sitting position
  • Sleeping with the neck hyperextended (in a “looking up” position)
  • Headaches upon awakening
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Attention-deficit disorder or learning problems

In addition, the physical examination of children with sleep apnea can include overweight or underweight, big tonsils, poor growth, and high blood pressure. However, even without any of these findings, this recent study suggests that persistent loud snoring alone may have important consequences.

If your child is a loud snorer, look for the symptoms above and talk with the pediatrician. To know for sure if there are problems with breathing during sleep, a sleep study may be needed. Alternatively, some pediatricians may prefer to refer to a specialist like an ENT (ear-nose-throat) doctor for further evaluation.

Treatment can include a trial of medications. Though none are specifically FDA approved to treat snoring or sleep apnea, there is good evidence that inhaled nasal steroids may help, and a very recent study showed that a common asthma/allergy medicine called montelukast may also be worth a try. If medicines don’t work, or if symptoms are quite significant, the most definitive treatment is surgical removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids.

Snoring isn’t just a problem for Wilma Flintstone. If your child has significant, loud, persistent snoring it might be causing some real problems. Go get it checked out.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Medical problems

Tags: , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

3 Comments on “Snoring isn’t good for children”

  1. Jade Grimestone Says:

    what a good read! 🙂

    Like

  2. Ken Says:

    How common are nasal steroids for this? My daughter is 4.5 and has been offered surgery to treat sleep apnea, but the steroid option was not mentioned. Her apnea is mild (but she does have the snoring, tiredness and behavioral problems).

    Like

  3. Dr. Roy Says:

    Ken, I couldn’t say how common. That may depend on your geographic area.

    Several studies have documented an improvement in at least mild pediatric sleep apnea. It’s not known how long that improvement will last, and there may still be some apnea left; still, because these products are generally safe, it may be worth a try. I recommend you discuss this with your child’s physicians.

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: