We’ve already talked about why it’s so important for parents to have a good sense of what their kid’s sleep (quality and quantity) is like. If they snore, we’ve talked about** obstructive sleep apnea** (due to enlarged tonsils, obesity) and how sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can impact everything from attention span in school to full blown ADD to weight gain to moodiness and behavior problems. A new study now suggests that parents need to pay close attention to kid’s sleep patterns because **snoring and other nighttime problems can stunt a child’s growth. **
One in five kids experience some breathing problems during sleep. They can include: snoring, mouth breathing and apnea (periods of no breathing followed by gasps). Experts have suspected that sleep disordered breathing (SDB) can contribute to growth delays. SDB may interrupt the sleep cycles during which the body typically secretes large amounts of growth hormone. Children with SDB may actually secrete less growth hormone.
The studies performed at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University looked specifically at kids with SDB cause by enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. These kids were monitored post surgery from a growth perspective. While all the kids were expected to continue to grow after surgery, the growth patterns observed were far greater than projected. Pediatricians should note these findings and begin to look at possibly screening for SDB by looking at “less than expected growth patterns in kids,” especially if their parents don’t mention sleep or bring it up. Since treating growth delays with medications is costly and can have unwanted side effects, a pediatrician should always ask about sleep and specifically snoring when they see kids in their office. It’s an easy way to screen for risk for delayed growth.
As parents you can offer the information proactively and find out if your child may have a problem.
Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”