Sleep Disorders May Cause Children to Have ADHD Symptoms
There has been a huge rise in the number of children being diagnosed for attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but the behavioral problems may actually be caused by sleep disorders. However, there was a 22% rise in ADHD diagnoses for children from 2003 to 2007. Many of these children may actually not have ADHD and their treatment for this disease may only be making matters worse.
Dr. Merrill Wise, a sleep medicine expert and pediatric neurologist, explains that there are real cases of ADHD but sleep problems should be handled first.
Sleep deprived children show the same symptoms as those with ADHD. Adults experience the lack of sleep by being sluggish and drowsy but children show other symptoms like moodiness, focusing problems, and antisocial behavior.
Research on the connection between sleep deprivation and ADHD symptoms was published in the Pediatrics medical journal. 11,000 children from Britain were monitored for 6 years. The monitoring started when they were 6 months old. Children who had breathing problems during sleep, snoring or sleep apnea, were found out to be 40% more likely to have behavioral problems. The symptoms were very similar to those with ADHD. Children who had a higher risk for developing ADHD-like symptoms had sleep disorder breathing problems that became prevalent at 2 and a half years of age.
Karen Bonuck, who led the study team, explained that inadequate sleep time can have a great effect on the development of the child’s brain. She further stated that screening for sleep disorders must be given importance just like screening for vision and hearing problems.
The Bonuck study supported other findings which showed that children with sleep apnea improved their attention-directed and cognitive tasks after the problem was corrected. Those who had ADHD also showed significant improvement when the sleep disorder was corrected.
A study called Childhood Adenotonsillectomy Study by the National Institutes of Health is an attempt to better understand the effect of surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids and the behavior of 400 children. The study is going to be completed this year.
A neurologist and director of University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center in Ann Arbor, Dr. Ronald Chervin, believes that behavioral problems in kids may be directly attributed to night time breathing difficulties which causes deprivation of oxygen to the brain cells. Children who have sleep disorders which disturb their sleep have the same behavioral situations also. ADHD-like actions are often seen in these children.
Oftentimes, a misdiagnosis can add up and cause sleeplessness since drugs used for ADHD treatment also cause insomnia.
Sleep quality is not so easy to determine with children. There are only 500 specially trained members for pediatric sleep issues of the 10,000 strong American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Pediatricians may not be able to diagnose the sleep disorder because they depend on parents to report that such a problem exists. Parents, on the other hand, may not know that their child has a sleep disorder so it goes unnoticed and untreated.