(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, PhD, 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% vs. 35.3%), Behavioral Symptoms Index (OR, 6.82; 7.4% vs. 35.3%) and Hyperactivity subscale (OR, 6.82; 11.1% vs. 41.2%), 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% vs. 50%), and Communication (OR, 4.26; 15% vs. 42.9%) and Self-Care subscales (OR, 2.97; 25.2% vs. 50%). 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% vs. 38.1%) and the ABAS-2 General Adaptive Composite (OR, 2.83; 20.5% vs. 42.1%), 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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