Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 00:17 UK

Childhood pets linked to snoring

Couple asleep
Snoring can be a serious problem

Growing up with a pet dog could increase your chances of being a snorer later in life, claims a Swedish study.

This is not just a potential annoyance - heavy snoring has been linked to early death, heart disease and stroke.

The University Hospital Umea research, published in the BioMed Central, found being exposed to a dog as a newborn boosted the risk of snoring by 26%.

They suggested allergic swelling could alter the shape of a person's airways for life.

People who snore run an increased risk of early death and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks or strokes
Dr Karl Franklin
University Hospital Umea

Just under one in five of the 15,556 people from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Estonia reported "habitual snoring", described as loud and disturbing on at least three nights a week.

The same questionnaire asked them to recall other facts about their home lives, and various factors seemed to increase the risk of snoring later in life.

These included being hospitalised for a respiratory infection before the age of two, having recurrent ear infections as a child, and growing up in a large family.

While there is no concrete evidence of a mechanism which might explain these findings, lead researcher Dr Karl Franklin, from University Hospital Umea, suggested that they could all "enhance inflammatory processes" and "alter upper airway anatomy early in life".

These permanent changes would then increase the chances of noisy nights to come.

'More than a nuisance'

Dr Franklin said that the problem extended beyond the prospect of sleep deprivation for the snorer and their partner.

"People who snore run an increased risk of early death and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks or strokes," he said.

Dr Keith Prowse, the chairman of the British Lung Foundation, said the study provided "interesting clues" as to why respiratory problems early in life could lead to potentially serious conditions years later.

"Snoring is more than just a nuisance and can be a sign of a respiratory condition called sleep apnoea which affects more than 110,000 people in the UK and is caused by the narrowing of the throat during sleep.

"We would welcome further research in this area to establish why exposure to these risk factors causes some children to become snorers in later life."

Three-quarters of Britons snore
05 Jul 07 |  Health
Snoring 'could run in families'
10 Apr 06 |  Health

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