HEALTHY LIVING
12/24/2012 09:57 am ET

Sleep-Disordered Breathing Affects 1 In 10 Kids, Study Finds

Sleep-disordered breathing -- which includes snoring and sleep apnea -- isn't just an adult condition: A new study from Finland shows that as many as one in 10 six-to-eight-year-olds may also have it.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, included 512 kids from Finland between ages six and eight. The researchers examined their sleep disturbance status, as well as how their top and bottom rows of teeth fit together and their face shape (craniofacial morphology).

Researchers found that being overweight and obese wasn't linked with sleep-disordered breathing in kids, as it may be with older adults. Rather, craniofacial or dental issues seemed to be at play, according to the European Journal of Pediatrics study.

"If a child has symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, his or her craniofacial status and dental occlusion need to be examined," study researcher Tiina Ikävalko, an orthodontic specialist and a clinical lecturer at the university, said in a statement. "On the other hand, children with tonsillar hypertrophy, crossbite and convex facial profile should be examined to assess the quality of their sleep."

The prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in kids found in this study is not too different from that previously reported by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, which said that snoring is commonplace in about 10 percent of all kids, and obstructive sleep apnea is prevalent in about 2 to 4 percent of kids.

Potential health risks from sleep-disordered breathing in kids include attention problems, bedwetting, increase in insulin resistance, increase in blood pressure, and even a decrease in growth hormone, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery reported. Since enlarged adenoids and tonsils are a common cause for sleep-disordered breathing in kids, getting these removed could help to treat the condition for some.

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