New Study Shows Snoring In Children Might Be Linked To Hyperactivity And Cognitive Challenges

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It is a known fact that snoring is linked to many health issues among adults. However, a new study has shown that snoring might be affecting children as well and parents need to pay attention if their children snore more than twice a week. This large-scale study has revealed that frequent snoring might be linked to structural brain changes in kids that can lead to behavioral issues such as lack of attention, hyperactivity, and cognitive challenges as well. Some cognitive challenges are very hazardous for their education, said the experts.  The results of the study have been released in the Journal Nature Communications.  The study has found that kids who snore frequently or more than two times have been identified with thinner gray matter in the brain as compared to those kids who get normal sleep.

Health experts have said that poor sleep quality is known for reducing gray matter in the brain, the regions of the brain that are most densely filled with neurons. It plays a vital role in day-to-day activities in terms of reasoning skills and impulse control. The study has been done by experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Experts have looked at the MRI scans of more than 10000 children who have been in the age range of 9 to 10 years. These children have participated in the National Institutes of Health’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (ABCD study) as well. It is a long-term program to monitor kids’ brain health in the US.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Amal Isaiah has said that the brain changes caused by frequent snoring in children are similar to children who are dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children, who snore more often, are identified with loss of cognitive control that is linked with disruptive behavior as well, said the author. Health experts have found that up to 10 percent of children in the US are diagnosed with an obstructive sleep disorder such as snoring, mouth breathing, and breathing pauses during sleep. The authors of the study have said that a large portion of such cases might be misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD and might be given stimulants for treatment.

These stimulants disrupt their sleep pattern even further. The lead author of the study, Dr. Amal Isaiah has said that snoring happens when kids are not able to sleep properly or waking up frequently. Snoring can lead to changes in the way kids’ blood carries oxygen to the brain that means they are not getting sufficient oxygen. The study has shown that around 30 percent of kids are found to have minor or occasional snoring. At the same time, nearly 10 to 12 percent of children are identified with primary snoring, which takes place more than two nights per week, and it remains frequent throughout the night.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Amal Isaiah has advised that parents who have children who snore more than twice a week should get their children evaluated by a medical professional. He has said that with the findings of the new study, health experts will have strong structural evidence from brain scanning to strengthen the magnitude of diagnosing and treating obstructing sleep disorders in children. Dr. Amal Isaiah has termed the study as the largest study of its kind that has shown detailed links between snoring and abnormalities in the brain among children. The co-author of the study, Dr. Linda Chang has said that such disorder can be treated through tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. However, timely diagnosis of such sleep disorders is vital, said Dr. Chang. She has said that specifically in children, the brain has the capacity to repair these abnormalities on its own.

Nevertheless, there is a need for more research to verify such a mechanism for these links that might pave the way for further treatment methods as well. Dr. Linda Chang has said that even if health experts find out a formula to simply encourage kids to go to sleep in the first place, it might be a futile effort that will result in parents losing at least six days of sleep per year.  The authors of the study have said that parents should not panic about their children’s snoring but should not ignore it as well.


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