Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Sleep Disorders and Brain Maturation

What is the effect of sleep disorders on child development? Specifically, how sleep apnea with intermittent hypoxia and or sleep deprivation alters the normal trajectory of maturation of brain regions controlling cognition, behavior and the cardiovascular system?

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

The significance of the behavioral and cardiovascular findings in children as they relate to health during adulthood is unknown. It remains to be defined whether the behavioral and cardiovascular abnormalities observed in children with sleep apnea are a reflection of structural and functional brain abnormalities, which might persist into adulthood and predispose to health problems at an older age.

A fundamental question that deserve investigation whether brain maturation in children with sleep apnea and sleep deprivation deviate from normal trajectory and whether brain plasticity can restore normal structure and function.

Such knowledge on brain maturation and plasticity in children with sleep disorders could lead to the identification of brain biomarkers that might signal risk for future mood and behavioral disorders and or cardiovascular diseases. The new knowledge will also identify sensitive period(s) during child development for interventions.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

In the last decade, the application of new technologies of fMRI and diffusion MRI have permitted the study of the evolving brain connectome across all stages of development and created new potentials to inform our etiologic understanding of many pediatric and adult diseases.

We now can for the first time examine the brain developmental trajectories in children with chronic medical conditions including sleep disorders and compare the findings to normative data.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Raouf Amin, Mark DiFrancesco, Scott Holland

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Idea No. 1088