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Snorers, it might be Fido's fault

August 25, 2008 |  9:56 am

Puppydog1 Pet lovers are going to hate this, but a new study in the journal Respiratory Research found a link between snoring in adulthood and being exposed to a dog as a newborn. It is, the authors say, the first study to examine early childhood environmental exposures and later snoring.

Before dog owners with babies get too upset, remember that the study is from a branch of science called epidemiology. Such observational studies can be grist for future research, but they often turn out to be flat out wrong, as a story by Andreas Von Bubnoff explained last year in the Los Angeles Times.

In fairness, a pet dog is not the only culprit when it comes to noisy sleeping habits in later life. Being hospitalized before age 2 for a respiratory infection and having chronic ear infections as a child were also linked to future snoring.

But relax, Fido. Swedish researchers also found that coming from a large family is another risk for future snoring, and no one is suggesting taking extra siblings to the pound.

The team of Swedish researchers asked nearly 16,000 adults ages 25 to 54 from Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Estonia about a variety of environmental exposures in early childhood, and then asked if they snored as adults. About 16% of men and 7% of women reported loud and habitual snoring at least three days a week. The snorers were about 25% more likely to have had a dog in the house as a baby.

"These factors may enhance inflammatory processes and thereby alter upper airway anatomy early in life, causing an increased susceptibility for adult snoring," the authors speculate.

Fluffy, though, need feel no guilt. The study found no association between cats in childhood and adult snoring.

-- Susan Brink

Photo: AP/Bob Bird