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Sleep Med. 2008 May;9(4):418-24. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Risk for sleep-disordered breathing and executive function in preschoolers.

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West Virginia University, Department of Psychology, Morgantown, West Virginia, WV 26506-6040, USA.



Pediatric sleep-disordered breathing is known to negatively impact cognitive development. While a theoretical basis has been proposed for the developmental effect of pediatric sleep-disordered breathing on executive function specifically, this had not been directly examined among preschool-age children. This population may be particularly vulnerable if school-readiness is compromised. The purpose of the current study was to use a multi-dimensional approach to assessing executive function among preschool-age children at risk for sleep-disordered breathing.


Thirty-nine preschool children were administered executive function tasks assessing the dimensions of inhibition, working memory, and planning as part of a larger study. A parent or guardian completed a validated questionnaire concerning the child's snoring and other behaviors indicating risk for sleep-disordered breathing.


After controlling for age in a series of regressions, higher parent-reported risk for sleep-disordered breathing was associated with substantially lower performance on each executive function dimension. In comparing the group means of children at high and low risk for sleep-disordered breathing, the single snoring frequency item also showed that children who snored frequently or almost always had lower performance on each executive function dimension.


The results suggest that sleep-disordered breathing may be associated with impaired executive function in preschoolers, with its strongest impact on the inhibition dimension, further emphasizing the importance of early intervention for sleep-disordered breathing in this early age group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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