Studies have shown that kids with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have behavioral difficulties that affect school and home. Some will present to their pediatrician with symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - but in reality, the cause is underlying OSA. This study in the Journal Sleep looked at how kids with OSA have increased risk of behavior and adaptive functioning difficulties. Adaptive functioning refers to how these kids "negotiate social situations, engage in self-care to meet his or her own needs, and apply skills learned in school."
Researchers studied 263 kids starting at ages 6-11 years old. They had the kids and parents fill out questionnaires about behavior and functioning. They had the kids do home sleep studies. Then 5 years later, they repeated the questionnaires and sleep studies.
The results showed that the highest rate of impairment occurred in those kids diagnosed with OSA, particularly those that had it on both sleep studies (5 years apart). Researchers note, however, that some behaviors, like aggression and conduct problems, were accounted for by sociodemographic variables, rather than the OSA. And kids who had OSA on both sleep studies were 3-7 times more likely to have learning problems and lower grades than in kids who never had OSA.