Children with Sleep Disordered Breathing Prone to Emotional Problems?

Children A new study conducted by researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, suggests that young children who have Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) are more likely to develop behavioral problems including hyperactivity and aggressiveness.

PsyhCentral reports that this study is the largest of its kind and found that the disorder peaks in children between the ages of 2-6 years.  The main symptoms of SDB  include snoring and sleep apnea and the primary causes of SDB are enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

Lead researcher Karen Bonuck, Ph.D. purported , “This is the strongest evidence to date that snoring, mouth breathing, and apnea (abnormally long pauses in breathing during sleep) can have serious behavioral and social-emotional consequences for children.”

Parents filled out a questionnaire when their child was around four to seven years of age.  This Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire is widely used to access behavior and rates for inattention and hyperactivity as well as emotional symptoms , peer difficulty and behavior problems.

A pertinent question would be if the study took in to consideration other factors for behavioral problems , and the answer is yes.  The study accounted for 15 additional factors such as socioeconomic status, maternal smoking during pregnancy and low birth-weight.

“We found that children with sleep-disordered breathing were from 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop neurobehavioral problems by age 7, compared with children without breathing problems,” said Bonuck.  “The biggest increase was in hyperactivity, but we saw significant increases across all five behavioral measures.”

Researchers suggest that SDB triggers behavioral problems by harming the brain with a decrease in oxygen levels; therefore, an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the prefrontal cortex, which interrupts the restorative process of sleep.

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