Sleepy child? Factor in obesity, asthma

May 17th, 2011 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 17 (IANS) If your child dozes off too much in the day time, there could be more to it than meets the eye. Obese, asthmatic, anxious or depressed children are more likely to experience excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS.

“Our data suggests that EDS in young children is more strongly associated with obesity and mood issues as it is in adults,” said Edward Bixler, professor of psychiatry at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine.

EDS is the inability to stay awake during the day, while sleep-disordered breathing is a group of disorders that includes sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in breathing, the journal Sleep reports.

“EDS may interfere with daytime functioning in children, including academic performance,” said Bixler. “Although excessive daytime sleepiness in adults has been the focus of extensive research, studies on the risk factors associated with EDS in children have been limited.”

The researchers studied 508 children and found EDS in 15 percent of them. “Our study indicates that EDS is highly prevalent in children, a symptom that may adversely affect daytime functioning,” said Bixler, according to a Pennsylvania State College of Medicine statement.

Researchers conducted a two-phase study to look at the issue. They recorded height, weight, body mass index and waist circumference — a marker of central obesity and metabolic abnormalities — for each child.

All children spent one night in a sleep lab and were screened for sleep apnea — defined as at least five seconds of breathing stoppage while sleeping. Parents completed a sleep questionnaire to assess EDS.

The 508 children comprised 431 without EDS and 77 children with EDS. They ranged in age from 5 to 12 years, with 51.8 percent being boys.

The researchers found waist circumference, positive history of asthma, use of asthma medication, heartburn, and parent-reported symptoms of anxiety/depression and of sleep difficulty significantly associated with EDS.

Waist circumference alone contributed to the independent prediction of EDS, suggesting metabolic factors may play a contributing role in the mechanisms of EDS.

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