Study links structural brain change

Study links structural brain change to behavioral problems in children who snore

A large study of children has uncovered evidence that behavioural problems in children who snore may be associated with changes in the structure of their brain’s frontal lobe. The findings support the early evaluation of children with habitual snoring.

The research, published in Nature Communications, was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and nine other Institutes, Centers, and Offices of the National Institutes of Health.

Large, population-based studies have established a clear link between snoring and behavioural problems, such as inattention or hyperactivity, but the exact nature of this relationship is not fully understood. While a few small studies have reported a correlation between sleep apnea — when pauses in breathing are prolonged — and certain brain changes, little is known about whether these changes contribute to the behaviours seen in some children with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (oSDB), a group of conditions commonly associated with snoring that are characterized by resistance to breathing during sleep.

To address this knowledge gap, researchers led by Amal Isaiah, M.D., D.Phil., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, capitalized on the large and diverse dataset provided by the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, a long-term study of child health and brain development in the United States. The team of researchers mined this wealth of data from more than 11,000 9- and 10-year-old children to examine the relationships among snoring, brain structure, and behavioral problems.

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