Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Study Finds Link between Sleep Apnea, Obesity and Cognitive Abilities in Kids

Individually, sleep apnea, obesity and cognitive problems can be a source of behavior problems and dysfunction in children. But new research indicates these conditions may be connected and can actually aggravate the effects of one another.

A study conducted at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital and Pritzker School of Medicine focused on more than 350 children between the ages of 6 and 10. The children underwent testing related to sleep, cognitive skills and body weight, and researchers discovered that the three factors have an interactive association.

For example, cognitive abilities can be negatively impacted by problems such as sleep disorders and obesity. Likewise, according to the study published in this week’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, “poorer integrative mental processing may place a child at a bigger risk for adverse health outcomes.”

Although the study did not establish the causal relationship between sleep apnea, obesity and cognitive skills, the research is notable for being the first to probe all three factors simultaneously. Previous studies have evaluated the conditions separately, although prior research has also indicated a link between sleep disorders and obesity.

This study suggests that when physicians examine children’s obesity issues, they should also screen for cognitive problems and sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea.

To learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment for children, please contact a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders near you.

posted by Steve at 8:45 AM