By Margarita Nahapetyan
Snoring in young kids is associated with a higher risk of mood disorders and depression, as well as problems with language and attention, claims a new study.
The researchers at Helsinki University Central Hospital, in Finland, studied 43 pre-school aged children who snored at least once or twice per week, according to their parents, and compared them with 46 other kids who did not snore. The children, with the average age of 5 years, were tested by means of standard tasks that looked at behavior problems, cognitive, or intellectual function, and development. All the youngsters were assessed by their parents or caregivers with the help of a Child Behavior Checklist, and additionally by the scientists with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, Revised, and few other tests.
After the completion of all tests, the experts found that children who snored, seemed to have a higher rate of problems with mood, and they also showed noticeable symptoms of anxiety and depression. Overall, 22 per cent of kids who snored, had symptoms of mood disorders, which were severe enough to require clinical evaluation. On the other hand, in the group of kids that did not have snoring problems, only 11 per cent of young participants were found to have similar mood disorders.
"The results of our study bring out snoring as a possible risk factor for mood problems and cognitive impairment in children," said lead researcher Eeva T. Aronen, M.D., Ph.D., of Helsinki University Central Hospital. According to the researchers, children who snore also experience very often some other problems, such as seeing bad dreams and nightmares, talking in their sleep, or problems to be put to bed. Cognitive tests also showed that there were some significant differences, including lack of attention and language skills among the kids who snored. However, other kinds of problems, such as aggressive behavior in youngsters, did not seem to have any relationship with the SDB (sleep-disordered breathing), the experts wrote.
Previous investigations have shown that the sleep disorders may have negative impact on the mental health of a person, but those studies were conducting their research only involving adult participants. This is the first study that associated sleep disorders with behavioral and cognitive problems in such young children. The experts believe that when their findings will become well-known to the physicians and other professionals, they will have the opportunity to better understand the mental health and developmental impact of SDB (sleep-disordered breathing) in preschool-aged kids. Therefore, they could take necessary therapeutic measures in time, before complicated emotional or behavioral symptoms and poor school performance begin to appear and develop in the child.
The researchers suggest that more research and investigation on this matter will be needed in order to assess effective treatments for snoring problems in young kids, and determine whether these treatments will help to alleviate the impact on the children's mood and intellectual functioning.
The study is published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.