THOSE soft snores coming from your child might sound cute now, but they're likely to lead to trouble later.
New research shows children who snore are more likely to have behavioural problems, presumably because they're not getting a decent night's sleep.
They are also more at risk of having heart, lung and ear problems, according to ear, nose and throat specialist Dr David McIntosh.
"It's a lot more common than what people realise," he said yesterday.
"In fact, there's probably a lot of parents who don't even realise (their children are snoring).
"If they do have a child that snores, that is actually quite serious with regards to their schooling, their behaviour and their health.
"Kids that snore are far more vulnerable to disturbed sleep, so they don't cope anywhere near as well.
"The main thing is the effect on their concentration and behaviour at school.
"It's like a ship that's off course: the longer you go (with disturbed sleep patterns), the farther off course you will be. We shouldn't be ignoring this."
Dr McIntosh said surgery or medication could usually help, with tonsil and adenoid problems responsible for the majority of snoring problems in children.
The next most common cause was allergies, which could cause breathing problems, he said.
"Children with a blocked nose that are mouth breathers are about four to five times more likely to need braces (because the muscle pull around their jaw changes) if intervention's not undertaken at an early stage."
Parents shouldn't worry about occasional snoring from children who had a cold or were very tired, he said.
Regular snoring, sleeping with their mouths open or stopping or pausing while breathing at night were signs of trouble.
"Look for consequences: behavioural problems; school problems; facial growth and jaw development problems; (and) bed wetting."
IT CAN BECOME PROBLEMATIC
- If children snore four times or more a week.
- If children sleep with their mouth open (or breathe through their mouth, rather than their nose, a lot during the day).
- Stopping or pausing breathing while asleep.