Breathing for ADHD

Sleep-disordered breathing may be a cause of ADHD, or it may simply be misdiagnosed as ADHD. Brain scans of children with breathing problems have revealed neural injury in the area associated with learning and memory and separate studies have found that children with breathing problems have lower IQs and reduced academic success compared with children who are able to breathe properly at night.

Breathing problems are frequently overlooked by parents and doctors, but once they are tackled children have been found to go on to enjoy greater academic success and a reduction in ADHD behaviours.

Signs to look out for are snoring – which affects around one in five children – and laboured breathing, or snorting and gasping. The adoption of unusual sleeping positions, or nightmares of drowning or choking may also be indicative of a breathing problem.

If a child does have disordered breathing, one possible solution is ‘continuous positive airway pressure' therapy, which involves an electronic device that delivers constant air pressure via a nasal mask worn during sleep.

Click here for more research reports on the causes of ADHD

First published in February 2008

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