Apparently, a snoring baby isn’t as cute as you might think.

Donné Restom wrote on Kid Spot about how she discovered snoring babies may signal to something more ominous.

When her son was first born, she endearingly nicknamed him “Piglet,” for the amount of food he made her eat, and for how cute he sounded when he snoozed.

FlickrCC/pavel venegas

However, Restom warns that an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist may diagnose the snoring as cause for concern.

According to Dr. David McIntosh, an ENT pediatric specialist, parents often ignore when their children snore. He says, however, that persistent snoring is actually not normal. He explains:

Snoring is a noise that is made when there is either a blockage of airflow, or a disturbance in the normal airflow pattern. Specifically this relates to problems in the breathing somewhere between the nose to the voice box.

He describes the connection between blocked airways and the brain:

The problem of airway obstruction [which is what happens when you’re snoring] though is that even if the brain recognises there is a problem, increasing the effort of breathing achieves very little. Furthermore, blockage to breathing results in oxygen levels in the blood dropping. This is something the brain does not like very much.

For example, when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it panics. According to Dr. McIntosh, when children snore on a regular basis, specific problems may arise as a result of this, including:

  • Reduced attention
  • Higher levels of social problems
  • Increased anxiety
  • Cognitive dysfunctions
  • Faulty problem solving
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Higher levels of depressive symptoms
  • Diminished ability to think logically

McIntosh explained that several studies’ results demonstrate:

[C]hildren with the snoring and altered blood flow had issues with their brain function, as measured by their ability to think through puzzles and problems. Their concentration also improved once the airway blockages were fixed.

In the most impressive study, containing 11,000 infants observed for six years beginning at age six months, the results showed that:

Children that were snoring, breathing through the mouth, or had sleep apnoea had a higher incidence of behavioural and emotional issues such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness, depression, and anxiety. They were 50 to 90 percent more likely to develop ADHD-like symptoms than were normal breathers.

Even children who gradually stopped snoring over time still suffered from more problems than children who never snored. As a result, early intervention is crucial.

FlickrCC/Big D2112

Before you panic and immediately check your baby into the ICU, know that not all cases of snoring are cause for concern. According to Kid Spot, if the snoring is caused by the following, you’re most likely in the clear. There’s typically no need to worry if your child:

  • Is sick or has a cold;
  • Is really tired at the end of a busy day; or
  • Is not a “habitual” snorer, whereby snoring is present for four or more nights of the week.

However, if you notice your child snoring regularly, do not hesitate to get them checked out, Dr. McIntosh says. He adds that “it’s not just the brain that suffers.” Studies have shown that the breathing problems could affect the heart, as well, potentially leading to high blood pressure in adulthood.

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