The pediatric otolaryngologists at Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, Alabama have learned that research conducted by Gothenburg University in Sweden suggests that when snoring becomes persistent in children, the child’s sleep quality is affected.

“Occasional snoring during a child’s sleep cycle is completely normal,” explains pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Brian Kulbersh of Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, Alabama. “However, if a child is snoring constantly, it could be a cause for concern. Chronic snoring affects a child’s sleep quality and could be a symptom of sleep apnea. Most parents are unaware that one has anything to do with the other, and it’s an important matter to raise awareness about.”

In Sweden, Dr. Gunnhilder Gudnadottir of Gothenburg University, led a study in which the caregivers of 1,320 children between the ages of 0 and 11 years old were given questionnaires to assess their breathing during their sleep cycle and whether their parent or guardian had consulted a doctor on the breathing issue. Of the 754 responses received by the study, 5 percent of the children snored frequently, and only 1/3 of the caregivers sought the advice of a medical professional in regards to the symptoms.

“Chronic snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea in a child. Most children will ‘grow out’ of their sleep disorders, but chronic snoring and sleep apnea can wreck havoc on their immune system and their health in the meantime. Many children suffer from fatigue, learning difficulties, behavior problems, bed-wetting, and even stunted growth. Parents often think snoring is harmless, and, sometimes it is, but, when it occurs too often it is imperative that your child be evaluated by a specialist,” Kulbersh continued.

The American Sleep Apnea Association hypothesizes that 1-4 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea. Out of that percentage, most of the children range between the ages of 2 and 8.

“Enlarged tonsils is a very common reason for chronic snoring and can be resolved with surgery,” explains Dr. Kulbersh. “The most important thing is to remain alert and if you notice a change in your child’s health or behavior, as a result of breathing disturbances during the child’s sleep cycle, an evaluation from a pediatrician and/or specialist should be the next step.”

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