Children with sleep disordered breathing may face behavioral problems

child sleep disorders


A new study, published in the April issue of the journal Sleep, has found that children suffering from sleep apnea or other sleep disordered breathing problems are at a higher risk of developing ADHD like behavioral problems. The research was led by Michelle Perfect, an assistant professor in the school psychology program in the Department of disability and psycho-educational studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Perfect along with colleagues, studied the prevalence and incidence of sleep disordered breathing, and its effect, on the behavior of 263 children aged between 6 and 11 years. The children were part of the Tucson Children's Assessment of Sleep Apnea Study (TuCASA). They were made to undergo polysomnography and their neuro-behavioral data was examined twice, five years apart. 
It was seen that 23 children developed incident sleep apnea during the course of the study. 21 of these children suffered from persistent sleep apnea which lasted throughout the period of the study. Another 41 children suffered from sleep disordered breathing at the start of the study but were no longer suffering from the problem when they were followed up after five years.
The researchers noticed that children who suffered from incident sleep apnea were at four to five times higher risk of developing behavioral problems. Children with persistent sleep apnea were six times more likely to have ADHD like problems compared to children with no sleep disordered breathing. The children suffering from sleep apnea were more likely to have parent reported problems like aggressive behavior, lower social competency, reduced adaptive skills, and poorer communication. These children were also seven times more likely to face learning problems. They were at three times higher risk of scoring poor grades in school.
On the basis of these results, the researchers have opined that sleep disordered breathing should not be taken lightly. Many a times, parents of such children tend to adopt a wait and watch policy. However, armed with the results of this study, the physicians should try to coax the parents to opt for treatment for sleep apnea.
Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB (Resp Med)
Friday, September 7, 2012
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