Sleep apnea in children
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing for a short time during sleep. These periods are called apneas.
A new study shows that sleep apnea or sleep apnea in children can lead to a decrease in the amount of gray matter in the brain; Gray matter is a part of the central nervous system.
Sleep apnea is thought to affect about five percent of the world’s children, but little is currently known about its effect on children’s brain development.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is usually caused by loosening of the throat muscles and obstruction of the airways, resulting in the cessation of breathing during sleep at night.
When the throat is blocked and the air is blocked, the brain senses danger and wakes the person, then these muscles contract, and the problem of obstruction is resolved.
These very short breaks can occur 5 to 30 times per hour during the night.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have studied the effects of sleep apnea on the brains of 16 children with obstructive sleep apnea between the ages of 7 and 11.
These children underwent neurological tests and were scanned using imaging (MRI).
Dr. Leila Kheirandish Gozel, director of pediatric clinical sleep research at the University of Chicago, who led the research team, examined the scanned images in collaboration with researchers at the University of California.
The results of this test and brain scans were compared with the results of tests performed on 9 other children who did not have sleep apnea based on gender, age, weight, and ethnicity.
The condition of children with sleep apnea was also compared with data from a database of 191 MRI scans in a pre-existing National Institutes of Health database.
When the studies were completed, the results of this study were interesting because children with obstructive sleep apnea had a significant reduction in gray matter volume.
** This reduction in gray matter appeared in a range of areas of the brain, including:
– Anterior cortex or forehead; Involved in problem-solving, movement, language, memory, impulse control, and judgment.
– The frontal cortex of the brain; processes complex behavior, personality, and planning.
-Wall cortex; Which integrates sensory input.
– Temporal lobe; Which manages selective hearing and listening.
– Brainstem; Which controls respiratory, cardiovascular function.
The results of this study were published in the journal Scientific Reports, but more studies are needed to support and expand it.
Because sleep apnea is a treatable disorder, parents who are concerned about their child’s risk of developing the condition need to see a specialist right away.