[R]esearchers examined MRI images collected from more than 10,000 children aged 9 to 10 years enrolled in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.
They found that children who snored regularly (three or more times per week), as reported by their parents were more likely to have thinner gray matter in several regions in the frontal lobes of their brain. These areas of the brain are responsible for higher reasoning skills and impulse control.
The thinner cortex in these regions correlated with behavioral disturbances associated with sleep disordered breathing, a severe form of which is called sleep apnea. These behavioral problems include a lack of focus, learning disabilities, and impulsive behaviors. The snoring condition causes disrupted sleep throughout the night due to interrupted breathing and reduction in oxygen supply to the brain.
Up to 10 percent of American children have obstructive sleep disordered breathing, and a significant percentage are misdiagnosed as having ADHD and treated with stimulant medications.
Dr. [Amal] Isaiah offered this advice to parents: “If you have a child who is snoring more than twice a week, that child needs to be evaluated. We now have strong structural evidence from brain imaging to reinforce the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep disordered breathing in children.”