Childhood Snoring Could Lead To Behavioral Problems

NEWARK—The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reported on research showing that children who snore or who have other sleep-related breathing problems are more likely to have behavioral problems years later. According to a large, population-based study the will appear in the April 2012 issue of Pediatrics, the study findings suggest that these symptoms may require attention as early as the first year of life.

“Children suffering from sleep disorders may be hyperactive and inattentive, and any sleep disturbance will result in a child who cannot properly concentrate in school,” says Sushmita Mikkilineni, M.D., Director Pediatric Pulmonology for Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “Untreated pediatric sleep disorders take a toll on the whole family and have far-reaching effects on the child, impacting learning and development.”

Fortunately, sleep disorders are very treatable, says Dr. Mikkilineni. With proper treatment, children can improve dramatically. By using advanced methods and sleep-monitoring technologies to study a child’s sleep and breathing patterns throughout the night and across the week, pulmonologists can recommend the appropriate plan of treatment.

Early intervention is important. According to the study, 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. Study authors conclude that sleep-disordered breathing early in life has strong effects on behavior later in childhood, possibly because of increased vulnerability during a critical period of brain development when there is the greatest need for sleep.

The Division of Pulmonary Medicine at CHoNJ provides comprehensive evaluation of children with respiratory and non-respiratory pediatric sleep disorders (including obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia etc.) provided by a physician who is board-certified in pediatric sleep medicine. A State-of-the Art Pediatric Centered Sleep Laboratory is available at CHoNJ for children who need sleep studies.

The Division of Pulmonary Medicine at CHoNJ reports children with sleep apnea may demonstrate these symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Restless sleep
  • Sweaty sleep
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Social difficulties
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Poor school performance and grades

For more information or an appointment with The Division of Pulmonary Medicine, call 1-973-926-4273.


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