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Sleep apnea damages children’s brain tissue

Even an episode of apnea per night can cause chronic and acute changes in the brain tissue of children suffering from this respiratory disorder. The evidence emerges from an Australian study that used a biochemical imaging technique

08 Jan – (Reuters Health) – Sleep apnea, also known as Sdb ( Sleep disordered breathing ), would be associated with acute and chronic changes in brain tissue, at least in children. This is what emerges from a study published by Sleep and coordinated by Rosemary Horne , of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The introduction
According to the authors, up to 35% of Russian children often or always. And snoring is the characteristic symptom of nocturnal apnea, a condition that up to 6% of the pediatric population suffers. Moreover, at any severity level, this disorder would be associated with increased blood pressure, cardiovascular changes and would have behavioral and neurocognitive consequences.

The study
To evaluate the integrity of brain tissue and the association with Sdb, Horne and colleagues used the mean diffusivity (Md), a measurement of biomedical imaging calculated through a magnetic resonance instrument called diffusion tensor imaging. In particular, Australian researchers considered 18 children with suspected Sdb and, as controls, 20 children who did not snore. Compared to controls, children with Sdb tended to have lower Qi scores, Qi performance and full quotient, and showed a tendency to have more deficits on the basis of the results obtained in the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function scales .

Children with Sdb showed significantly lower Md values, which indicated the presence of acute lesions with swelling at the level of axons and neurons in different areas of the brain. The frontal and bilateral pre-frontal cortex of the children with Sdb showed an increase in the values of Md, which would reflect a chronic damage in the axons.

The conclusions
“This study shows that sleep apnea can not be ignored,” explains Horne. Although there is an increasing correlation with the severity of the disorder, “even those children with less than one obstructive event per hour of sleep would have shown evidence of alteration in the brain,” continues Horne. “The fact that we have found that many of the brain changes are acute, provides evidence that the treatment could reverse some deficits associated with the alteration of breathing in sleep. Early diagnosis and treatment will probably have a greater effect on preventing problems associated with sleep breathing, such as high blood pressure, behavioral difficulties and learning. “

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