Children’s snoring – why you shouldn’t ignore it

snoring children child asleep mouth open

While many parents dismiss their child’s snoring as normal and something they’ll grow out of, the latest Australian research has discovered it can seriously impact their health.

Monash University has revealed that snoring children can have increased blood pressure and poor behaviour and reduced intellectual ability.

Children’s snoring

Snoring is common in childhood, particularly in pre-schoolers, with up to 30 per cent of kids suffering from the sleep-related condition.

About five per cent of children have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which means their airways collapse briefly while they’re sleeping; dropping their blood oxygen levels and disrupting their sleep.

While many parents believe childhood snoring is a harmless, passing phase, this new research reveals it’s far more serious.

Monash University Professor Rosemary Horne led a team which studied more than 260 snoring children aged between three and 12, to gauge the impact of their snoring and OSA. They were then followed up three to four years later.

Snoring changes the brain

They discovered that snoring was impacting their behaviour and learning at school, their blood pressure, and even triggering changes to the brain.

And Professor Horne says the impacts are worse in older children, which indicates that “the long-term effects of snoring are cumulative, impacting on the child’s cardiovascular health, as well as on long-term behaviour, learning and cognitive development”.

Reasons your child may be snoring

  • Illness: a cold or virus could give your child a blocked or stuffy nose, causing snoring.
  • Allergies: If your child has allergies, like hay fever, it could cause their nose to become blocked with mucus.
  • Deviated Nasal Septum: If your child has been born with a crooked nasal septum, it could lead to breathing difficulties.
  • Weight: Being overweight causes nasal passages to narrow.
  • Genetic Disorder and Neuromuscular Disease: Children who have Down Syndrome, muscular dystrophy or a cleft palate are more prone to snoring.
  • Asthma: Inflamed nasal airways can make it harder for a child to breathe.
  • Passive smoke: Exposure to secondhand smoke can irritate airways.
  • Enlarged adenoids or tonsils: These are the most common causes of snoring in children.

Removal of tonsil and adenoids

Every year more than 50,000 Australian children have their tonsils or adenoids removed, many to solve sleep apnoea.

What are adenoids?

  • They are tissues aimed at fighting off infections from germs that are breathed in or swallowed.
  • They enlarge naturally when a child is three years old and will usually shrink again when they turn seven.
  • If they’re enlarged, adenoids can make a child snore or have a blocked or runny nose.

“Our results indicate that snoring and apnoea have important implications for children’s health and parents should consider getting medical advice about the need for surgery,” Professor Horne says.

The snoring children study is set to continue at the recently opened Monash Children’s Hospital, as the team looks into whether the brain impacts caused by snoring and OSA in childhood can be reversed.

And if your child is a nose picker, read our article about why it’s okay for nose pickers to eat their boogers.

Kids snoring - why you shouldn't ingore it