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The link between childhood behaviors and sleep breathing disorders

Research shows that children with sleep breathing disorders like sleep apnea are more prone to certain behavioral issues.

Researchers have found that children who snore or who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea tend to be more likely to display signs of behavioral problems than those without these types of issues. A study, which followed more than 11 000 children over the course of six years, found that children with sleep breathing problems were around 40 percent more likely to develop behavioral issues such as hyperactivity and even aggression by the time they reached seven years of age. Read on to find out more about the study and what you can do if you suspect your child has sleep apnea…

What does the research show?

The study, which was performed by researchers based at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, showed that there is significant evidence to suggest that sleep-related issues such as mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea, can all have a serious impact on children’s behavioral and social-emotional development.

The study looked at 11 000 children and compared 5000 normal breathing children with 6000 children who experienced sleep breathing problems. The children’s parents were asked to fill out specially designed questionnaires about their children’s sleeping patterns from six months old to six years of age. When the children were four years old, and again at seven years old, the parents filled in additional questionnaires intended to measure behaviors types, such as hyperactivity, anxiety, relationship problems and conduct issues.

According to the research, the children who had breathing problems at six months old had a 50 percent higher risk of developing behavioral problems by the age of seven, when compared to children without breathing issues.

What are the symptoms of sleep breathing disorders?

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea in children include snoring, coughing while sleeping, choking while sleeping, mouth breathing, frequent pauses in breathing, unusual sleep positions, bed-wetting, and sleep terrors. While all of these symptoms occur during sleep, there are a number of symptoms that can occur during the day. These include daytime sleepiness, falling asleep during the day, and difficulty waking up in the morning even after an early bedtime. You may notice that your child has difficulty paying attention at school, in which case they may experience learning problems. Many children also develop hyperactivity as a result of poor-quality sleep.

What can you do?

If you suspect that your child has a breathing problem, we highly recommend that you come in and see us. Our team is highly experienced in the treatment of sleep breathing disorders and understands the importance of recognizing and treating children’s airway concerns as early as possible. When left untreated, breathing problems can cause serious issues to develop, and they can become more and more difficult to treat in later stages of life.

At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we offer a range of treatment options and encourage families to attend regular wellness check-ups in order to ensure the wellbeing of their children.

If you think that your child may need airway treatment, we recommend that you take our pediatric sleep and airway questionnaire. This is a good starting point and a helpful tool before you come in for a consultation.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available. When you bring your child in for an assessment, we will advise you on the best course of treatment based on their particular needs.

Who will treat my child?

At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we are proud to have a team that is compassionate, dedicated and highly experienced. Dr Steven Acker is our principal dentist and has a special interest in the relationship between comprehensive oral health and total body wellness. To find out more about the rest of our team, have a look here.