A new study is pointing to serious issues that could be caused by sleep apnea in children. The research, conducted at Hopkin’s Children’s Centre in Baltimore, looked at 31 children between the ages of 6 and 16 (19 of whom had severe sleep apnea) using a special form or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It was found that those children with sleep apnea showed significant changes in both the hippocampus and right frontal cortex – two areas of the brain associated with learning and higher mental function. These changes could lead to issues such as lowered intelligence.
This study also found that these children had altered levels of three chemicals within the brain, indicative of brain damage.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects 8% or more of children in United States, and is almost always an anatomical problem.