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Child Sleep Apnea Can Lead To Significantly Lower IQ Scores

Sep 2, 2008
Sleep Apnea In Children Can Lead To Significantly Lower IQ Scores

Although it has been known for a long time now that children who have sleep apnea frequently show poor scores on IQ tests (usually scoring an average of 85 as opposed to a score of 101 for children who are not suffering from sleep apnea) one thing which what has not been known until very recently is that this results from chemical changes within the brain. In other words an otherwise intelligent kid could well turn in a mediocre performance as a result of nothing more than a sleeping problem which, in most cases, can be quite simply treated.

In a recent study undertaken in Baltimore, 31 kids aged between 6 and 16 (19 of whom had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea) were examined with a special form or MRI and it was found that the children suffering from sleep apnea had important changes in both the hippocampus and right frontal cortex which are parts of the brain which are linked to learning and higher mental function.

The study also showed that these kids had levels of three brain chemicals which were indicative of brain damage. This alteration of the chemistry of the brain brought about by the presence of sleep apnea might or might not be lasting and, at this stage, additional studies are required to see whether or not this effect can be reversed.

Even if reversal is possible however and the chemistry of the brain and cognitive function can be returned to normal, children with sleep apnea are going to suffer learning problems as long as they have untreated sleep apnea and will certainly not be able to rewind time and regain this learning period.

Of course, parents should already be on the lookout for signs of sleep apnea in their kids and this study clearly indicates that an early diagnosis and treatment of this sleeping disorder could have a significant affect on your child's success in later life.

There are a number of signs of sleep apnea including frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping which frequently lead to an arousal from sleep and tossing and turning in bed. Kids can also display labored or loud breathing, snoring, coughing, gasping and, on occasions, bedwetting at a time when should normally have passed.

Parents could also see a child sleeping in an odd position, possible with their bottom sticking up in the air and with their head tilted back in an unconscious effort to keep their airway open.

In the majority of cases sleep apnea in children can be treated by taking out the tonsils and adenoids, or by removing excess tissue from the back of the throat or nose. In addition, a CPAP machine can also be employed to provide the child with an airflow delivered through a mask worn while sleeping to keep the airway open.

In itself sleep apnea is incapacitating for any child and the effect of nights of inadequate sleep are going to take their toll on your child. But, when this is combined with an impairment of your child's IQ, it is essential that you act at the earliest possible opportunity to have the condition diagnosed and treated.
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Visit Help-Me-To-Sleep.com for the latest information on central sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
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