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D. A Discovery Links Sleep Apnea to a Speech Impediment

Narrator:This is Science Today. Through an act of serendipity, UCLA scientists have discovered that patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have gray matter loss in brain areas that regular breathing and speech. In fact, neurobiologist Ronald Harper, who led the study, says nearly forty percent of the patients they studied also stuttered as children.

Harper: First came the brain area/volume loss and then by sheer accident, we noted that several of our subjects stuttered during the patient interview and then we called our other patients and asked, have you - did you ever stutter as a child? And uniformly they came back, oh yes -of course.

Narrator: Harper says these findings may shed new light on the treatment of two disorders.

Harper: We have to focus attention on speech disorders in early childhood and if children have - in addition to a speech impediment, enlarged tonsils, we have to jump on that issue because now I think there's a suggestion that it's a severe problem.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.