Narrator: This is Science Today. UCLA scientists have linked obstructive sleep apnea to brain damage. Ronald Harper, who led the study, says they also discovered almost half of these patients stuttered as children, suggesting that sleep apnea may be the result of faulty brain wiring early in life.
Harper: We believe that the initial loss or damage or miswiring in the language expression areas triggers the conditions for obstructive sleep apnea. Once that apnea is triggered and once it continues and that is accentuated by enlarged tonsils or by obesity in later life, then some of the later damage occurs.
Narrator: Harper and his colleagues believe the later damage occurs in the brain's cerebellum, which has a major role in cardiovascular and respiratory control.
Harper: What we hope to do is examine children, using these non-invasive procedures and see whether they suffer the same consequences.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.