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J Pediatr. 2004 Oct;145(4):458-64.

Sleep-disordered breathing symptoms are associated with poorer cognitive function in 5-year-old children.

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Department of Medicine, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2394, USA.



To assess the relation of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) symptoms in children to neurocognitive function.


A cross-sectional, population-based study of 205 5-year-old children. A parent-completed questionnaire was used to ascertain SDB symptoms, defined as frequent snoring, loud or noisy breathing during sleep, or witnessed sleep apnea. Polysomnography (PSG) data were available in 85% of children. Standardized neurocognitive tests were administered by a trained psychometrist unaware of the children's SDB status. Children with (n=61) and without SDB symptoms were compared using analysis of variance to adjust for demographic and respiratory health variables.


Children with SDB symptoms scored significantly lower than those without SDB symptoms on tests of executive function (95.5 vs 99.9 on NEPSY Attention/Executive Core Domain, P=.02; 10.4 vs 11.2 on Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, Revised [WPPSI-R] Animal Pegs test, P=.03), memory (96.8 vs 103.0 on NEPSY Memory Domain, P=.02), and general intellectual ability (105.9 vs 111.7 on WPPSI-R Full Scale IQ, P=.02). There were no significant differences on a computerized continuous performance task. These findings persisted when children with PSG evidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were excluded from analysis.


Even in the absence of OSA, SDB symptoms are associated with poorer executive function and memory skills and lower general intelligence in 5-year-old children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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