Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sleep apnea in kids predicts lower grades, behavioral problems

Obstructive sleep apnea is a not only a health risk for children, it’s a barrier to academic success. Schoolchildren with moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing averaged a half a grade lower than their peers. Those same children are also prone to behavioral problems according to an abstract presented Tuesday at SLEEP 2010.

None of the children with OSA brought home report cards with an “A” average. 30 percent had a “C” average or lower. Roughly 15 percent of their peers who didn’t have OSA scored “A” averages. Only 15 percent posted average or below average grades.

The findings were regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status and sleep duration on school nights.

Testing suggests an association between OSA and inattention and poor study skills in real-world situations. There was no significant link to neurobehavioral functions such as intelligence, memory and problem solving.

163 overweight children participated in the study. That group was chosen because excessive weight is a risk factor for the disorder. OSA diagnoses were made based on report by parents and an overnight polysomnography.

Moderate to severe OSA was defined by an apnea-hypopnea index of more than five breathing pauses per hour of sleep. About half the children had OSA.

The children and their parents gave their grades to the researchers. Teachers and parents reported behavioral concerns. Office-based neuropsychological testing was used to assess children’s neurobehavioral functioning.

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