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Sleep Apnea Tied to Behavioral, Attention Problems in Youths

Persistent breathing problems are linked to aggressivity, poorer communication skills

WEDNESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children with sleep apnea are at higher risk for behavioral, adaptive, and learning problems, according to a study published April 1 in SLEEP.

Michelle M. Perfect, Ph.D., from University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues analyzed data from 263 youth participating in the Tucson Children's Assessment of Sleep Apnea study with valid polysomnography and neurobehavioral data at two time points approximately five years apart. Assessments from the Behavior Assessment Scale for Children-2nd Edition Parent Report Form (BASC-PRF) and Self-Report of Personality (SRP), as well as the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System-2nd Edition (ABAS-2) were used as the primary outcomes measures.

The researchers found that individuals with persistent sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) met significantly more cutoff scores on the BASC-2-PRF Externalizing Problems Composite (odds ratio [OR], 3.29; 8.92 percent versus 35.3 percent), Behavioral Symptoms Index (OR, 6.82; 7.4 percent versus 35.3 percent) and Hyperactivity subscale (OR, 6.82; 11.1 percent versus 41.2 percent), compared to those who never had SDB. Similarly, relative to never, those with persistent SDB had greater difficulties on the ABAS-2 Social Domain (OR, 3.39; 22 percent versus 50 percent), and Communication (OR, 4.26; 15 percent versus 42.9 percent) and Self-Care subscales (OR, 2.97; 25.2 percent versus 50 percent). Youth who developed SDB at Time 2 had compromised adaptive skills as measured by the BASC- 2 PRF Adaptive Behavior Composite (OR, 3.34; 15.6 percent versus 38.1 percent) and the ABAS-2 General Adaptive Composite (OR, 2.83; 20.5 percent versus 42.1 percent), relative to youth who never had SDB.

"Youth with current SDB exhibited hyperactivity, attention problems, aggressivity, lower social competency, poorer communication, and/or diminished adaptive skills," the authors write.

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