'Child behaviour link' to snoring

Child asleep - posed by model One in 10 children snore regularly

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Children who snore, or who have other night-time breathing conditions, are at risk from behavioural problems, according to a study.

Sleep apnoea and snoring made conditions such as hyperactivity more likely later on, researchers said.

The study, published in the US journal Pediatrics, looked at data on 11,000 children living in the UK.

Lead researcher Dr Karen Bonuck said the sleep problems could be harming the developing brain.

One estimate suggests one in 10 children regularly snores and 2% to 4% suffer from sleep apnoea, which means the breathing is obstructed and interrupted during sleep.

Often enlarged tonsils or adenoids are to blame for the conditions.

In adults, the result can be severe day-time tiredness, and some studies have hinted that behavioural problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder might be linked to the condition in children.

The latest study is sufficiently large to offer a clearer view of this.

Oxygen supply

Parents were asked to fill in a questionnaire in which both the level of snoring and apnoea were recorded in the first six or seven years of life, and contrasted with their own assessment of the child's behaviour.

Start Quote

If the sleep problem is addressed, the behaviour will improve almost immediately.”

End Quote Marianne Davey, British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Society

Dr Bonuck, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, said that children with breathing issues during sleep were between 40% and 100% more likely to develop "neurobehavioural problems" by the age of seven.

She believes that the sleep breathing issues could cause behavioural problems in a number of ways - by reducing the supply of oxygen to the brain, interrupting the "restorative processes" of sleep or disrupting the balance of brain chemicals.

She said: "Until now, we really didn't have strong evidence that sleep-disordered breathing actually preceded problematic behaviour such as hyperactivity.

"But this study shows clearly that symptoms do precede behavioural problems and strongly suggests that they are causing these problems."

Marianne Davey, from the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Society, said that sleep problems in the young were an under-recognised reason for poor behaviour.

She said: "Often parents won't make the connection and mention them to the GP, so this label of ADHD is given to the child, and sometimes they are even given drugs.

"This is wrong, as if the sleep problem is addressed, the behaviour will improve almost immediately."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    My 11 yr (who up until 12 mths ago has been an angel & still is for everyone else), has become a monster! Severe back chat, strops, serious hormonal stuff, or so we thought? She has huge tonsils (3 docs have commented on them) & she snores like a trooper, especially more recently. Off to the docs for us me thinks, & perhaps we'll start being a little more understanding of her.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I suppoxe all teenagers snore. They seem to have behavioural problems!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Baden Powell in his (unintentionally) hilarious book 'Scouting for Boys' says a scout should never snore as it gived his position away to the enemy!!
    BP unforunately did not follow through and tell us how a person can help snoring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    If you snore then you are obviously asleep and therefore, getting your quota to be fresh as a daisy the following day. It is the people who don't snore who have the behavioural problems as they endure the suffering of listening to the snorer. They are the ones who are grouchy and tired and who misbehave as they slap their partners to stop snoring. This study is flawed and non sensical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Oooh look - another dubious piece of research paid for those who have an axe to grind.

    This one is particularly unpleasant as it stigmatises children who snore, have asthma and, of course, kids who are fat. Well kids this study shows conclusively that no matter how good your parents are, how hard you work at school & university, you will have behavioural & social problems in life. What twaddle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I wonder who backed and funded this study, an American corporation planning to sell a drug to kids perhaps? None of these studies actually matters, they're often warped to sell something. The basic fact of the matter is that kids grow up differently, all people are unique. So what if someone has "behavioral" problems? We're creating a world of clones by removing anything making a person different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @9. goosegog01

    So your experience as 1 person invalidates a study of 11,000 how?

    Also, as to "noone complaining about snoring", as a child I never talked about snoring with anyone (not a standard topic now either), but it's probably that parents discussed it with other parents. Do you know what your parents spoke about when you were a child?

    @#10. Why not move to the Russian election HYS?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    In children lack of sleep can have the opposite effect to what you'd expect, rather than tired they can become hyperactive (know as being overtired when I was young), this could easily be misdiagnosed as ADHD.
    Sleep apnoea is taken seriously in adults, why not children? It's not regular snoring that's being talked about here, if you ever hear someone with apnoea you know it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This is a good study, with a reasonably sized population. It shows correlation and strongly suggests causation.
    I know when I've had a 'snory' night, because I have lower energy levels the next day. Despite being quite intelligent I have never got round to doing anything about it. I will now speak with my GP, with a view to getting something done to help me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    This is interesting and quite logical if you think about it. If you're not sleeping well as an adult you tend to be grouchy with a low attention span. It makes sense that children with sleeping problems are more likely to have behaviour problems.

    This article is NOT another way to allow partents to justify poor skills (#12) but to highlight a possible link to discuss with the doctor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    As to snoring affecting behavior - give me a break! Bad behavior in most UK children is a function of poor parental control.

    > but what if snoring is congenital: are snoring parents incapable parents? Hey, you've suggested a new project for this team. Phew. You probably saved them their jobsworth...

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    My son is nearly 3 and has had problems with snoring since 6 months old. He has had his adenoids and tonsils out (it became life threatening as he couldn't breathe in his sleep) but has progressively got worse with his snoring and sleep apnoea since the operation. His behaviour is so much worse on days when he's more tired, it effects his concentration levels. He's due to have a sleep study soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    so now add snoring to the " justify bad behaviour " list and parents are exonerated of almost all responsibility! Great

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    What about adults who snore? Are they suffering from behavioural problems too?

    I prefer just sentancing my other half to a night in the spare room, but is this only making his snoring behaviour worse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Once again the Beeb has cjosen a topic of marginal interest for the 'Have Your Say' and the real issues that people have opinions that differ from journos are either not opened for discussion or appear to close almost immediately...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I think that the whole study is the biggest load of rubbish that I have ever read! I lead a very normal childhood, if that was possible, between 1938 and 1945. No-one complained ever of snoring. I have lead a normal life ever since although my wife does complain that I snore now. However, other than her occasional complaints, I lead a very normal rational life.Sorry scientists,don't believe you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Of course children who cannot get a good night's sleep will have behavior problems; they will be tired, restless, miserable, & in our society might just be diagnosed as ADD with is regimen of drugs.
    Cure the sleep problem, let the child rest, & all will be well.
    Did we need a study to demonstrate this logic?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    What a load of old rubbish. 'Behavioural problems' appears to be the new middle class excuse for poor parenting skills, If I hear 'Oh it's not his fault he suffers from ADHD disorder in the playgrond again i'll scream'. (So much easier to blame others than admit you can't bring up a child properly)

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I've got news for the research team. Most people who snore have behavioural probelms. Snoring IS a behavioural problem.

    We're obviously in the research silly season. Why not a study on why women are female and men, male or something like the connection between excessive ice cream and sterility

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Yet another daft conclusion from scewed statistics. It is how the child is brought up by their parents whilst they are AWAKE that determines whether or not they will develop behavioural problems.


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