Public Release:  Sleep-related breathing disorder common among aggressive, bullying schoolchildren

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

WESTCHESTER, Ill. - Aggressive behavior and bullying, common among schoolchildren, are likely to have multiple causes, one of which may be an undiagnosed sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD), according to a research abstract that will be presented Wednesday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, conducted by Louise M. O'Brien, PhD, of the University of Michigan, focused on children in the second through fifth grades who attended school in an urban public school district. Parents completed two well-validated instruments: the Conner's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) the Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire SDB Scale. Teachers completed the Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS). The numbers of discipline referrals in the previous 12 months were obtained from the six elementary schools.

A total of 345 CPRS's and 245 corresponding CTRS's were completed. It was discovered, through both methods, that schoolchildren who bully may be more likely to have an SRBD than their peers.

"Treatment of an SRBD has been shown to improve other behaviors in children. Therefore, it is possible that treatment could reduce such behaviors and provide a novel way to target bullying and aggressive behaviors in the school setting," said O'Brien.

An SRBD may be a problem in more than 10 percent of children. It occurs when the airway is partially blocked during sleep. The most common example is snoring. The most severe form of an SRBD is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs in about one percent to two percent of children.

Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from an SRBD, or another sleep disorder, are encouraged to consult with their child's pediatrician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.

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The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The four-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

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