Newborn babies make all kinds of mysterious noises, from grunts to wails to wheezes. Most of the time, these are totally normal and no cause for concern. The same goes for infant snoring. Occasional snoring in a newborn is common, but chronic snoring in an older baby might signal a more serious problem.
According to Dr. William Sears, from Parenting Magazine, newborns often make noises when they breathe because their airways are narrow and full of "bubbly secretions." Snoring occurs when air passes through these secretions, causing the soft tissues of the airway to vibrate. Usually, snoring subsides as the infant's airway grows and he learns to swallow excess saliva.
Dr. Sears reports that snoring can also occur when a baby's breathing passages are obstructed by mucus or excess secretions. In this case, the baby has to breathe harder to move air past the obstruction, which produces snoring. This might happen if your baby has a cold or allergies.
If your baby has chronic snoring, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, according to Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Some children who snore have enlarged adenoids, which obstructs the flow of air through the breathing passages. This condition can be repaired surgically.
According to Dr. Weissbluth, snoring could also be a sign of sleep apnea, or moments of complete airway obstruction when breathing stops temporarily. Apnea often causes very loud snoring as well as night waking, as the body wakes itself to continue breathing.
Effects of Chronic Snoring
If your child's snoring gets progressively worse, disrupts his sleep, or affects his daytime mood or performance, Dr. Weissbluth recommends seeing a doctor. Chronic snoring can lead to poor-quality sleep, which can cause all sorts of problems, from headaches to obesity. Infant snoring is not, however, related to SIDS.
- Ask Dr. Sears: Baby Snoring
- "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child;" Marc Weissbluth, M.D.; 2003.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Paul Sapiano
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