05/03/2012 08:11 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Children Who Snore At Risk Of 'Behavioural Problems'

Sleeping child Getty

A new study claims children who snore or have other night-time breathing conditions such as sleep apnoea, are at risk from behavioural problems as they get older.

The study, published by US journal Pediatrics concluded that youngsters were more likely to have conditions such as hyperactivity later on if they experienced sleep problems when they were younger. Medics looked at data on 11,000 children living in the UK for the study, which was led by Dr Karen Bonuck from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York.

Dr Bonuck found that children with breathing issues during sleep were between 40 more likely to develop "neuro behavioural problems" by the age of seven. She said sleep problems could harm a child's developing brain:

"Until now, we really didn't have strong evidence that sleep-disordered breathing actually preceded problematic behaviour such as hyperactivity.

"But this study shows clearly that symptoms do precede behavioural problems and strongly suggests that they are causing these problems."

Estimated figures suggest that one in 10 children snores regularly, while 2 to 4 per cent have sleep apnoea, where breathing is obstructed during sleep. The blame is often put on enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

Whilst in adults, sleep disruption can lead to tiredness during the day, some studies have suggested that behavioural problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder could be linked to the condition in kids.

Dr Bonuck believes breathing issues could cause behavioural problems by reducing the supply of oxygen to the brain, interrupting the "restorative processes" of sleep, or disrupting the balance of brain chemicals.

Marianne Davey, from the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association, told the BBC that sleep problems in children were under-recognised as a reason for poor behaviour.

She said: "Often parents won't make the connection and mention them to the GP, so this label of ADHD is given to the child, and sometimes they are even given drugs.

"This is wrong, as if the sleep problem is addressed, the behaviour will improve almost immediately."

What do you think? Do your children snore?