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Snoring in Babies and Toddlers

Snoring in Babies and Toddlers

Snoring in adults while annoying, is quite normal. It can cause frustration and sleepless nights for the person sharing a bed with the snorer, but for the post part isn't a huge concern.

Snoring in babies and toddlers on the other hand, isn't 'normal' and can be a red flag for a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

From Starship 

"Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSA) is a relatively common and potentially serious medical condition in children causing sleep disruption and abnormal physiology, with potential daytime consequences (sleepiness, mood or behavioural problems, poor attention, learning difficulties, and / or diminished quality of life).

History is a valuable tool for screening for OSA though as it occurs only during sleep, the child and other family members may not be aware of breathing problems. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep periods typically occur in the early hours and are both the riskiest and least observed periods of sleep. Audio/video recordings from caregivers can add greatly to clinical insight.

  • Snoring - almost universal but non-specific
  • Other abnormal noises - gasps, snorts, choking, pauses
  • Restless, sweaty or disturbed sleep
  • Mouth / mixed breathing
  • Unusual positions / postures - neck extension, sleeping with pillows, 'draping' over furniture
  • Waking headaches (may indicate sleep hypercarbia)
  • Prolonged sleep (to make up for poor quality) and daytime sleepiness
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Bed wetting
  • Other conditions / syndromes pose particular risk (Downs, craniofacial, Prader Willi syndrome, neuromuscular weakness, obesity)."

According to Norton Children’s Pediatric Sleep Center, as many as 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD have OSA. 

During the day, a child with undiagnosed OSA may display

  • Behavioural issues
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of concentration at school
  • Morning headache
  • Poor school performance
  • Poor weight gain

If any of these symptoms sound familiar and you have a baby or toddler, have a chat to your GP to discuss whether a referral to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist is necessary.  

In my role as a sleep consultant, I have encountered a large number of children who snore. In referring them to an ENT specialist, enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids are often discovered and once this has been remedied, the vast majority of these children almost immediately start sleeping better once recovered from the procedure! 

Getting on top of Obstructive Sleep Apnea early can be incredibly helpful for your child's development, so don't hesitate to visit your GP and push for a referral if you feel something isn't right.

tired child at school

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