Sleep woes tied to child's intelligence

By Sharon Lem

Mon, October 18, 2004

PARENTS NEED to watch for breathing problems while their kids sleep because it may affect the child's mental development and intelligence, two studies show. Children who have problems during sleep scored lower on tests involving mental development and intelligence than kids with no problems.

"The effects of poor sleep are often overlooked and misinterpreted in children," said Dr. Carl Hunt, director of the U.S. National Institute of Health's National Center on Sleep Disorder Research.

"Rather than appearing sleepy like adults, children may in fact seem to be more active or be hyperactive," Hunt said, adding that brain development in kids isn't complete until at least late childhood.

More than 10% of young children have habitual snoring and 1% to 3% of children have obstructive sleep apnea, where breathing stops briefly and repeatedly during sleep.