Breastfeeding and snoring: a birth cohort study

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 8;9(1):e84956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084956. eCollection 2014.


Objective: To investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and snoring in childhood.

Methods: In a cohort of children with a family history of asthma who were recruited antenatally we prospectively recorded data on infant feeding practices throughout the first year of life. Snoring status and witnessed sleep apnea 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.

Results: Habitual snoring was reported in 18.8% of the sample, and witnessed apnea 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 apnea (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.

Conclusions: Breastfeeding for longer than one month decreases the risk of habitual snoring and witnessed apneas 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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Australia
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Snoring / complications
  • Snoring / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors

Grants and funding

Bronwyn Brew is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research scholarship (#1038533), Guy Marks by NHMRC Practitioner fellowships (#1003500 & 402827), and the CAPS study by NHMRC Project Grant #570919 and the ongoing support of the NHMRC Centres for Research Excellence in Respiratory and Sleep medicine (#264598) and Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine (#571421). Catarina Almqvist was supported by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart-Lung foundation and the regional agreement on medical training and clinical research (ALF) between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Sweden. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.