Sleep apnea may damage children’s brain development

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Sleep apnea may damage children’s brain development

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease affecting more than 5% of the children. A disorder that, if untreated, can impair brain development in children, and may cause various problems of movement, memory, language, or autoncontrol, among others. This data, which has been extracted from a recent study carried out by specialists from the University of Chicago (USA). UU), emphasizes the need to treat this group; something that, while it is feasible, is not always produced.

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with a decrease in gray matter in the brain that is involved in cognitive development

It is estimated that around 10% of adults you have this disease worldwide, and that 90% is undiagnosed. In addition, it is shown that only 20% of those affected fulfilled treatment, what is alarming, because people who suffer this moderate condition and untreated, are three times increased risk of suffering a stroke.

In the case of children, this study – which has been published in the magazine Scientific Reports – has shown that children between seven and eleven years that have this condition of moderada-grave form could also have problems, because the substance that is related with different capacities – gray matter – experience a reduction in different parts of the brain due to obstructive sleep apnea.

Brain regions affected by sleep apnea

The research involved 25 children of the same age, sex and weight, – 16 of which were suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, and the other 9 non-, who was subjected to different test neurocognitive and magnetic resonance imaging tests. In addition, the results obtained were compared with the of another previous study with 191 children and once again confirmed the suspicion, since it was observed that children with this disease showed a reduction in the volume of gray matter in many areas of the brain, with respect to children who have not suffered from this condition. In particular, the brain regions that experienced the decrease in gray matter were frontal cortex (i.e., one that is related to the movement, memory, language, and the impulse control), the prefrontal cortex (involved in the planning and the personality), the parietal lobe (sensory impulses associated), temporal lobe (related to the ear) , and the trunk of the encephalon (linked to respiratory and cardiovascular functions).

Although the researchers themselves acknowledge that they have not able to establish a relationship that allows you to attribute the loss of gray matter to the emergence of specific cognitive problems, mainly due to that still it is not known what happens at the cellular level in the damaged neurons, as stated by Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, Director of the study, there is clear evidence that this group suffers a large neuronal loss with respect to the general population.

Therefore, in addition to assert the need for further studies in this respect, specialist says that it is likely that alterations of this substance have effects on brain function and, therefore, harm cognitive development of children. Reason more than justified, adds, to boost the diagnoses and treatments of this disease.

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