(HealthDay News) Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children during the first years of life appears to be strongly associated with future behavioral problems.

Karen Bonuck, PhD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, and colleagues analyzed data from the Parents in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Participants reported on their children’s snoring, mouth breathing, and witnessed apnea in surveys at 6, 18, 30, 42, 57, and 69 months of age and completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire at age 4 (9,140 children) and at age 7 (8,098 children). Adverse behavioral outcomes were defined by top 10th percentiles on Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire total and subscales. Five clusters of “Early” (642 months) and “Later” (669 months) symptom trajectories were defined.

The researchers found that the SDB clusters predicted approximately 20100% increased odds of problematic behavior, controlling for 15 potential confounders. Early trajectories equally predicted problematic behavior at both 4 and 7 years. In Later trajectories, the “Worst Case” cluster, with peak symptoms at 30 months that abated thereafter, predicted hyperactivity (odds ratio [OR], 1.85) and conduct (OR, 1.60) and peer difficulties (OR, 1.37) at 7 years, whereas a “Later Symptom” cluster predicted emotional difficulties (OR, 1.65) and hyperactivity (OR, 1.88). The two clusters with peak symptoms before 18 months that resolved thereafter still predicted 4050% increased odds of behavioral problems at 7 years.

“In this large, population-based, longitudinal study, early-life SDB symptoms had strong, persistent statistical effects on subsequent behavior in childhood,” the authors write.

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