Obstructive sleep apnea in children linked to brain damage

NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Aug 24 - The findings from a new study provide what researchers believe is the first evidence that untreated obstructive sleep apnea in children can cause neuronal brain injury.

"This should be a wake-up call to both parents and doctors that undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea might hurt children's brains," lead author Dr. Ann C. Halbower, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a statement. "This is truly concerning because we saw changes that suggest injury in areas of the brain that house critical cognitive functions, such as attention, learning, and working memory."

Previous reports have tied childhood sleep apnea to deficits in memory, learning, and executive function, but until now, no studies have demonstrated neuronal injury.