Breathing Problems in Infants

Drops in oxygen flow in newborns could contribute to attention problems later in life.

Tuesday February 1st - 11:00am

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta think that breathing problems may cause infants to develop AD/HD later in life.

An experiment conducted on newborn lab rats showed that periodic reductions in blood oxygen, similar to the experience of newborns with sleep apnea - brief pauses in breathing during sleep - are followed by a long-lasting reduction in the release of dopamine, a brain chemical linked to cognitive functions, such as attention and memory. Studies have suggested that low dopamine levels may bring about impulsiveness and distractibility in humans.

Apnea occurs in up to a quarter of all children, and 85% of premature infants experience it. "Our results show that a relatively common occurrence in newborns could have long-lasting negative effects," said researcher Glenda Keating, Ph.D., of the Department of Neurology at Emory University's School of Medicine. This research could lead to development of better drug therapies for treating AD/HD, added Dr. Keating.

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