HEALTHY LIVING

Sleep Apnea In Kids Linked With Behavior, Learning Problems

04/03/2013 08:33 am ET

How your kid behaves could have something to do with how well he or she sleeps (and breathes!) at night, according to a new study.

Research published in the journal SLEEP shows an association between obstructive sleep apnea -- where a person stops breathing for periods of time during sleep, leading to disrupted sleep -- and behavioral and learning problems in kids.

Scientists from the University of Arizona analyzed sleep disorder status and behavior of 263 kids ages 6 to 11 who were part of the Tucson Children's Assessment of Sleep Apnea Study. Among those kids, 23 had an incident of sleep apnea that occurred during the study, while 21 had persistent sleep apnea. And after following up with the kids five years later, 41 who had presented with sleep apnea during the study no longer had breathing problems while they were sleeping.

Researchers found an association between kids having sleep apnea and also having behavior problems.

Specifically, those who had an incident of sleep apnea had a four to five times higher risk of also having behavior problems. And those with persistent sleep apnea had a six times higher risk of also having behavior problems, and a seven times higher risk of having learning problems (as reported by their parents) and three times higher risk of having poor grades in school (C or lower).

The results fall in line with past findings on sleep apnea and behavior problems in kids. A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics showed that kids with sleep breathing problems had a 40 percent higher risk of behavior problems by the time they reached age 7, compared with those without such problems, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.

What's more, a Pediatrics study also published last year showed an association between sleep problems in kids and likelihood of requiring special education.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep-walking, growth issues and metabolic problems can also arise from sleep apnea in kids, not to mention a higher risk of obesity.

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