We say that they sleep like angels and when someone is enjoying some calm deep sleep, we say that they sleep like babies. However, some children are not at all calm and peaceful when they sleep – up to 30 % of children snore. We have been told that snoring may be a good indicator that something is not ok, but does snoring somehow affect child‘s health?
Scientists from the Monash University set out to investigate this question. They found that snoring does not have immediate effects on children’s health, but there may be some long term implications. Scientists studied 136 children aged 7-12 years and 128 children aged 3-5 years. They want to see if obstructive sleep apnoea, which is one of the most common causes for snoring, affects child’s development in some way or another. Parents’ usually believe that snoring is something children quickly grow out of and it is largely true, but scientists did make some interesting findings.
For example, while researchers found that pre-school children who snore had normal blood pressure and neurocognitive development, they also noticed that these children show signs of poor behaviour. Meanwhile a bit older snoring children may have reduced intellectual ability, poor behaviour and even higher blood pressure.
Interestingly, treating obstructive sleep apnoea would result in improvements in blood pressure and behaviour but not cognitive function. Interestingly, scientists are not sure why these long term effects exist. Professor Rosemary Horne, lead author of the study, said: “Our results indicate that snoring and sleep apnoea have important implications for children’s health and parents should consider getting medical advice about the need for surgery”.
Previously, they measured the oxygen concentration in the blood, using a sensor on the finger. They found no difference between snoring and non-snoring children, but they are not sure if the method was correct for the situation. So now scientists are hoping to use MRI scanning to monitor oxygen levels in the brain. Low oxygen levels are the best possible explanation as only breathing can be affected during snoring and lack of oxygen would explain the negative health consequences that these children are facing.
Long term effects of snoring in childhood still have to be confirmed – this study is just the first step. However, parents should pay a closer attention to their children sleeping, to see if their breathing does not get obstructed too much. Sometimes this problem can be solved during a short visit to the doctor’s office.
Source: Monash University