Study objectives: Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in children is associated with detrimental neurocognitive and behavioral consequences. The long term impact of treatment on these outcomes is unknown. This study examined the long-term effect of treatment of SDB on neurocognition, academic ability, and behavior in a cohort of school-aged children.
Design: Four-year longitudinal study. Children originally diagnosed with SDB and healthy non-snoring controls underwent repeat polysomnography and age-standardized neurocognitive and behavioral assessment 4y following initial testing.
Setting: Melbourne Children's Sleep Centre, Melbourne, Australia.
Participants: Children 12-16 years of age, originally assessed at 7-12 years, were categorized into Treated (N = 12), Untreated (N = 26), and Control (N = 18) groups.
Interventions: Adenotonsillectomy, Tonsillectomy, Nasal Steroids. Decision to treat was independent of this study.
Measurements and results: Changes in sleep and respiratory parameters over time were assessed. A decrease in obstructive apnea hypopnea index (OAHI) from Time 1 to Time 2 was seen in 63% and 100% of the Untreated and Treated groups, respectively. The predictive relationship between change in OAHI and standardized neurocognitive, academic, and behavioral scores over time was examined. Improvements in OAHI were predictive of improvements in Performance IQ, but not Verbal IQ or academic measures. Initial group differences in behavioral assessment on the Child Behavior Checklist did not change over time. Children with SDB at baseline continued to exhibit significantly poorer behavior than Controls at follow-up, irrespective of treatment.
Conclusions: After four years, improvements in SDB are concomitant with improvements in some areas of neurocognition, but not academic ability or behavior in school-aged children.
Keywords: Children; behavior; cognitive function; sleep disordered breathing; treatment.