ADHD & Autism Rates Spike—Is Sleep Apnea Responsible?

Researchers were surprised that that rate of ADHD and autism have spiked over the last 10 years. ADHD increased 33%, whereas autism increased from 0.19% to 0.74% over the same time period. Honestly, I’m not surprised by these results. Here’s my explanation for the continued rise in these two common developmental disorders:

  1. There’s definitely more awareness of these two conditions (ADHD and autism), as well as more inclusive criteria for diagnosis
  2. Implementation of the back to sleep campaign about 20 years ago
  3. Worsened diet
  4. Bottle-feeding
  5. Environmental endocrine disruptors
  6. Less total sleep time
  7. increased incidence of allergies and food sensitivities.

There’s even evidence showing that common motor-skill milestones are often coming in delayed, since infants are not spending as much time on their tummies, even during the day. As expected, skull deformities (flat head) are much more common since the back to sleep campaign.

What does this have to do with obstructive sleep apnea? Here are 3 important reasons:

  1. Factors 2 to 6 all significantly increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea, through either poor jaw development or inflammation of the upper airway.
  2. Obstructive sleep apnea can predispose to obesity, which narrows your airway even further
  3. Sleep-breathing problems begin during infancy, and the lack of deep, efficient sleep, not to mention frank hypoxia from apneas, can be detrimental to the infant’s brain development and biochemical pathways.

I realize that there are a number of other possible reasons for ADHD or autism (probably a combination of many factors), but not getting deep sleep can be a major barrier to proper brain development. Studies are definitely needed in this matter. Unfortunately, the medical/pharmaceutical industry is unlikely to change the status quo.

What do you think about this study? It is from over-reporting or more awareness, or is it for real?


 

 

 

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One thought on “ADHD & Autism Rates Spike—Is Sleep Apnea Responsible?

  1. Thank you for your very helpful website! Our question is regarding Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    Research suggests that children who experience hypoxic events are more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and/or learning disabilities.

    Does subsequent research support Dr. Barbara Stewart’s findings that the bronchial characteristics of children with ASD are contributing to hypoxia and/or sleep disordered breathing?

    See the report regarding the findings of Pulmonologist Barbara Stewart, MD:

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=150896

    We ask this because poor sleep seems to be almost synonymous with the ASD population as well as with many other learning disabilities.