International studies show that as many as 21 to 37 percent of children suffer from sleep disorders and about 9 percent of all babies and children snore. According to estimates, every fifth child's snorer suffers from sleep apnea (1). In rare cases, the nocturnal breathing disorder can even force the child to breathe so much that it leads to developmental delays. More than half of all children between one and four years of age snore occasionally, but eight percent of them snore every night. With age, the number of children who regularly snore increases: From 6 percent for one-year-olds to 13 percent for four-year-olds. Little boys snore more often than girls.
Snoring is a warning sign of disturbed sleep. Children who are not rested can not concentrate so well. This reduces their school performance (2). According to American and German studies, the proportion of children with poor school performance in the group of snorers is almost twice as high at 30.6 percent as in the control group at only 16.3 percent.
Daytime tiredness, hypermobility and paleness are also more common in snoring children than in children who sleep well at night. Children who snore are also more susceptible to infection, they are much more likely to suffer from chronic cough, colds and ear infections.
The cause of nocturnal "sawing" may be the blockage of the upper respiratory tract, which is caused by an enlarged throat almond, better known as polyps. But also enlarged palatine tonsils are often to blame for the difficult breathing. Obesity aggravates such problems. Even passive smoking can trigger snoring in children: even if only one parent smokes in the vicinity of one to four year olds, their risk of snoring increases by 60 percent.
Snoring is often treated by scraping the polyps. The palatine tonsils are also greatly enlarged, so they can be partially removed with the help of a laser. This so-called "tonsillotomy" can also be used in small patients under the age of five. Part of the almond tissue is preserved and maintains its defense against pathogens.
If your child snores, talk to the next visit to the pediatrician. He will examine the child and refer it to an ear, nose and throat specialist. In children who snore regularly, including an examination by a sleep specialist to include, possibly even an appointment with the dentist or orthodontist.
(1) Healthy Sleep Initiative
(2) American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2003; doi: 10.1164