MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and toddlers who snore or have other breathing issues while sleeping are more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of 7, new research suggests.
Those issues can include hyperactivity and inattention, emotional problems such as anxiety and depression, conduct problems such as rule-breaking and aggressiveness and problems with peer relationships, researchers said.
The study is published online March 5 and in the April print issue of Pediatrics.
The researchers assessed more than 11,000 children in England, who were followed for six years, beginning when the kids were 6 months old.
Parents were asked about snoring, mouth breathing and witnessed apnea -- when a child takes abnormally long pauses in breathing during sleep -- at various points throughout infancy and childhood. Taken together, those symptoms are called sleep-disordered breathing.
Parents also filled out questionnaires about their child's behavior at the ages of 4 and 7.
Those who had the worst sleep-disordered breathing were almost twice as likely to have behavioral issues at age 7 as kids whose breathing was normal. Kids were considered to have behavioral issues if their parent's ratings were in the top 10 percent, relative to kids their age, for problem behaviors.
"Parents should pay close attention to their child's sleep, and if you think something is going on you should consult a pediatrician or a sleep specialist," said study author Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City.
The research showed only an association between sleep-disordered breathing and behavioral problems, not causality. However, there could be several reasons for the connection, Bonuck said.
By interfering with the quality of rest, sleep-disordered breat
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