Atopy and snoring in toddlers

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 4th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Think of the phrase “habitual snorer” and you might imagine a paunchy, middle-aged man.

But believe it or not, ten to fifteen percent of preschool children are habitual snorers, meaning they snore at least three nights a week.

That may sound cute, but snoring is the most common symptom of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing. This condition disrupts oxygen intake and has been linked to cognitive deficits in school-age children.

To better understand obstructive sleep-disordered breathing, University of Cincinnati researchers explored one risk factor associated with habitual snoring.

It’s a mysterious, allergy-related illness called atopy [ATT-uh-pee]. Characterized by eczema, conjunctivitis, hay fever and asthma, atopy has a strong hereditary component. But environmental factors are also believed to play a role in its development.

As reported in a recent issue of the journal Chest, the researchers studied about seven-hundred children born to atopic [ay-TOPP-ick] parents.

At the age of one, each child was evaluated for atopy and parents were asked to estimate how often the child snored.

Thirteen percent of the non-atopic children were habitual snorers. But that figure jumped to twenty-two percent for atopic youngsters.

And among children with at least one parent who was a habitual snorer, twenty-two percent also followed suit.

This study shouldn’t alarm parents whose children snore. But it should motivate those whose children snore frequently to discuss the issue with primary-care providers, who may opt to screen these youngsters for obstructive sleep-disordered breathing.

Let’s just say it’s a wake-up call.