Snoring may affect behavior, health in kids


Two new studies reveal snoring is not normal in children and can be quite detrimental to a child's health and academic performance, yet many parents consider snoring to be a sign of healthy sleep.

Snoring is so common, most parents don't worry about it. Claudia Del Rio never dreamed her 12-year-old daughter's snoring was bad enough to affect her in school. Her daughter, Julia, started snoring as an infant.

A new Journal of Pediatrics study finds sleep disordered breathing early in life is linked to behaviors such as aggression, and hyperactivity.

Dr. Sally Davidson Ward, the head of pediatric pulmonology at Children's Hospital LA, says snoring in kids may be common, but it's not normal and the causes need to be addressed.

"Early symptoms of breathing problems during sleep predicted behavior problems at later ages," Ward said. "Big tonsils and adenoids, and being overweight are the biggest factors."

After undergoing a sleep study, Julia found out she has sleep apnea. Her breathing was obstructed during sleep. On average, she'd wake up seven times per hour.

In her own research, Ward also discovered a link between snoring and the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

"The trigger of disrupted sleep and low oxygen change how your sympathetic or automatic nervous system behaves," Ward said.

That can change how a young person's body metabolizes insulin and glucose.

For Julia, doctors recommended a surgical cure: a tonsilectomy. Del Rio hopes this will get her daughter's health and school performance back on track.

Ward says if your child snores, let your pediatrician know, because besides good nutrition and exercise, "healthy sleep is another component that shouldn't be ignored in raising healthy children."

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