Behavior and neurocognitive performance in children aged 5-10 years who snore compared to controls

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2000 Oct;22(5):554-68. doi: 10.1076/1380-3395(200010)22:5;1-9;FT554.


Sleep disordered breathing in children is a common but largely underdiagnosed problem. It ranges in severity from primary snoring to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Preliminary evidence suggests that children with severe OSAS show reduced neurocognitive performance, however, less is known about children who snore but do not have severe upper airway obstruction. Participants included 16 children referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat/Respiratory departments of a Children's Hospital for evaluation of snoring and 16 non-snoring controls aged 5-10 years. Overnight polysomnography (PSG) was carried out in 13 children who snored and 13 controls. The PSG confirmed the presence of primary snoring in seven and very mild OSAS (as evidenced by chest wall paradox) in eight children referred for snoring while controls showed a normal sleep pattern. To test for group differences in neurocognitive functioning and behavior, children underwent one day of testing during which measures of intelligence, memory, attention, social competency, and problematic behavior were collected. Compared to controls, children who snored showed significantly impaired attention and, although within the normal range, lower memory and intelligence scores. No significant group differences were observed for social competency and problematic behavior. These findings suggest that neurocognitive performance is reduced in children who snore but are otherwise healthy and who do not have severe OSAS. They further imply that the impact of mild sleep disordered breathing on daytime functioning may be more significant than previously realized with subsequent implications for successful academic and developmental progress.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / psychology*
  • Snoring / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires