Another study has found a link between sleep-disordered breathing in young children and a higher risk of developing behavioral and emotional problems later on. This is the largest study that has focused on this topic. Could this connection be part of the reason why your child has ADHD?
Sleep-disordered breathing is a phrase used to describe a wide variety of health issues that result in sleep related breathing abnormalities. This could include situations where a child chronically snores, engages in mouth-breathing (instead of through his nose while sleeping), or apnea. Children, and adults, who have sleep apnea seem to stop breathing for several seconds at a time while they are sleeping.
A study led by researcher Karen Bonuck, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, found a link that connects young children who have breathing problems with a higher risk of developing behavioral and emotional problems later on. This is not the first study to find this connection.
The study followed 13,000 children from the time that they were born until they were seven years old. A total of 45% of these children had no nighttime sleeping problems at all. The rest of the kids all experienced some sleep-disordered symptoms, at some point, (either during infancy or when they were in early childhood).
Researchers found a group of children that they called the “worst case” group. This group consisted of 8% of the kids. These children had problematic breathing symptoms that reached a peak between when the child turned two years old, and when the child had his or her third birthday. In these cases, after the sleep-disordered breathing reached its peak, it persisted.
The researchers found that kids who experienced sleep-disordered breathing, (at any age), were more likely to develop symptoms of behavioral or emotional problems by the time they became seven years old. This included things like ADHD, anxiety, and more.
The results showed that around 13.5% of the kids in the study who had experienced sleep-disordered breathing ended up developing behavioral or emotional problems by the time they turned seven. Out of the children who did not experience any sleep-disordered breathing, only 8% of them ended up with behavioral or emotional problems later on.
The kids who were in the “worst case” group had the biggest risk factors. Nearly 18% of that group developed emotional or behavioral problems by the time they turned seven years of age.
They suggest that parents pay close attention to their child’s symptoms of breathing problems. Does your child snore? Is he mouth-breathing while sleeping? Is she experiencing apnea? Is he extremely tired during the day? Treatments for sleep-disordered breathing may include losing weight, the use of a CPAP machine, or the surgical removal of the child’s tonsils or adenoids.
Image by Krissy Tower on Flickr