If your baby or toddler's frequent snoring makes her sound like a pint-sized chainsaw at night, here's why you might want to talk to your pediatrician about it.
According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, young children who snore are more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of 7, including hyperactivity and inattention, anxiety and depression, conduct problems such as rule-breaking and aggressiveness, and problems with peer relationships.
All because they snore? Researchers in the study assessed more than 11,000 children in England, who were followed for six years, beginning when the kids were 6 months old. By age 4, children with "sleep-disordered breathing" were 20 percent to 60 percent more likely to have behavioral difficulties. By age 7, they were 40 percent to 100 percent more likely. The worst symptoms were associated with the worst behavioral outcomes.
If you have woken yourself up with your own snoring, you already know what the underlying problem likely is here: snoring, sleep apnea, and other related sleep-disordered problems interfere with quality of rest. Because interrupted sleep leaves kids overtired, "this may contribute to behavioral issues, such as being easily distracted, hyperactivity, and irritability," says Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City, and the study's lead author (via the Philadelphia Inquirer).
For parents, Bonuck says to pay close attention to your child's sleep, and if you think something is going on, don't hesitate to consult a pediatrician or a sleep specialist. "We are sleeping to restore our brains, and sleep-disordered breathing interferes with that process. For kids, these are critical periods in brain development," she explains.