The Relationship of Breastfeeding and Snoring in Childhood

breastfeedingCan breastfeeding during the early years of life protect children from snoring and sleep apnoea later on? A new study has claimed it can. Brew et. al, in a study “Breastfeeding and snoring: a birth cohort study” published in PLoS One this year aimed to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and snoring in childhood. The investigators noted that sleep disordered breathing is becoming more of a common respiratory disorder among children and is associated with poor academic performance, increased daytime sleepiness, inattention and hyperactivity. It is also associated with high blood pressure and growth failure. Children who are at risk for sleep disordered breathing such as obstructive sleep apnoea have risk factors which include enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, nasal allergy, frequent colds, prematurity, morphological features associated with a long narrow face and above average BMI, according to these researchers.

Some studies have actually proven that breastfeeding may actually protect against childhood snoring, especially in children aged 1.5–6 years. Some experts actually point out that protection against snoring may also be increased to 14 years of age. The researchers aimed to test the hypothesis that breastfeeding in the first few months of life may be important in preventing the development of habitual snoring in young children.

The researchers prospectively recorded data of children with a family history of asthma that were recruited antenatally. This data included infant feeding practices throughout the first year of life. Snoring status and witnessed sleep apnoea were measured at age 8 years by parent-completed questionnaire. Associations were estimated by logistic regression with, and without, adjustment for sets of confounders designed to exclude biasing effects.

The results showed that habitual snoring was reported in 18.8% of the sample, and witnessed apnoea in 2.7%. Any breastfeeding for longer than one month was associated with a reduced risk of habitual snoring at age 8 (adjusted OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.81) and duration of breastfeeding was inversely associated with the prevalence of habitual snoring (adjusted OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.00). Any breastfeeding for longer than 1 month was associated with a lower risk of witnessed sleep apnoea (adjusted OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.71). The protective associations were not mediated by BMI, current asthma, atopy or rhinitis at age 8 years.

Thus, the authors concluded that breastfeeding for longer than one month decreases the risk of habitual snoring and witnessed apnoeas in this cohort of children with a family history of asthma. The underlying mechanism remains unclear but the finding would be consistent with a beneficial effect of the breast in the mouth on oropharyngeal development with consequent protection against upper airway dysfunction causing sleep-disordered breathing. Thus the researchers are hoping to disseminate this information to mothers around the world so that they can breastfeed their young early to lessen the rates of obstructive sleep apnoea cases worldwide.


Brew BK, Marks GB, Almqvist C, Cistulli PA, Webb K, Marshall NS. Breastfeeding and snoring: a birth cohort study. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 8;9(1):e84956.

Image Courtesy of Jomphong /

Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.