Sleep Apnea Prevents Brain Development In Children

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Sleep Apnea Prevents Brain Development in Children

Sleep apnea in children causes the breathing to stop momentarily during slumber thereby leading to a reduction in the gray matter in the brain. The effects of this ailment are not good.

Almost 5% of children face it on a regular basis. Normally what happens during sleep apnea is that the muscles in the larynx tend ro relax during sleep leading to a closing down of the air passages. Thus a lapse in breathing takes place. 

The scientific name for the ailment is obstructive sleep apnea. As the airways are closed, the message goes to the brain just in the nick of time and it awakens the body so that gulps of air can be taken to correct the imbalance in respiration.

The number of times such episodes occur per night range from a minimal 5 times to a maximal 30 times. The impact of sleep apnea on children’s brains is damaging to say the least.

The study involved 7 to 11 year olds. The children were tested in a lab and they received MRI scans and neurological tests, according to Reuters. 

The results were compared to the health statistics of 9 children without sleep apnea. The factors of gender, chronological age, poundage and ethnic background were taken into account.

A total of over 191 MRI scans in the National Institutes of Health database were also compared just to be on the safe side. The children with sleep apnea had low levels of gray matter.

This part of the brain processes information. The neuronal damage was substantial. Whether the brain cells had shrunk or been killed off remained a mystery in the study.

While those children with a high IQ may not have much to lose due to sleep apnea, those with a low IQ stand to have their lives ruined thanks to this disease. Since sleep apnea is curable, attention must especially be paid to these children with low IQ. 

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