Kids’ ADHD tied to snoring, sleepiness

Symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) occur with an intriguing frequency in children who snore throughout much of the night, a new study finds.

Problems with hyperactivity and inattention also occur excessively in boys and girls up to age 14 who are regularly sleepy during the day, report neurologist Ronald D. Chervin of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his coworkers.

These findings, published in the March Pediatrics, don’t show that snoring and sleep problems cause ADHD. In fact, hyperactivity may preclude a good night’s sleep and lead to increased daytime sleepiness. However, Chervin’s group suspects that frequent snoring paves the way to ADHD for at least some kids.

Chervin and his colleagues surveyed the parents of 469 boys and 397 girls, ages 2 to 14, treated at either of two local pediatric clinics. The data indicate that among boys age 8 and younger, 30 percent of those who snored most of the time while asleep exhibited hyperactivity and attention problems, compared with 9 percent of those who snored a little or not at all. This contrast held regardless of whether the boys were sleepy during the day.

Overall in the group, hyperactivity and inattention characterized 22 percent of heavy snorers and 12 percent of the rest. Frequent snoring was reported for 16 percent of the children and for comparable proportions of boys and girls.

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences for Science News since 1984. He writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues.