Study links structural brain changes to behavioral problems
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A large study of children has uncovered evidence that behavioral problems in children who snore may be associated with changes in the structure of their brain's frontal lobe. The findings support the early evaluation of children with habitual snoring (snoring three or more nights a week). The research was published in Nature Communications.

Parents frequently report behavioral problems among children who snore. Researchers' understanding of the relationship between symptoms of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (oSDB) and childhood behavioral problems associated with brain structural alterations is limited.

Here, investigators examine the associations between oSDB symptoms, behavioral measures such as inattention, and brain morphometry in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study comprising 10,140 preadolescents.

They observe that parent-reported symptoms of oSDB are associated with composite and domain-specific problem behaviors measured by parent responses to the Child Behavior Checklist. Alterations of brain structure demonstrating the strongest negative associations with oSDB symptoms are within the frontal lobe. The relationships between oSDB symptoms and behavioral measures are mediated by significantly smaller volumes of multiple frontal lobe regions.

These results provide population-level evidence for an association between regional structural alterations in cortical gray matter and problem behaviors reported in children with oSDB.

Nature Communications