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Nocturnal Oxygen Desaturation and Disordered Sleep as a Potential Factor in Executive Dysfunction in Sickle Cell Anemia

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Matthew J. Hollocks, Tessa B. Kok, Fenella J. Kirkham, Johanna Gavlak, Baba Inusa, Michael R. DeBaun, Michelle de Haan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-173
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number1
PublishedJan 2012

King's Authors


Previous research has identified cognitive impairment in children with sickle cell anemia (SCA, Hemoglobin SS) compared with controls, partly accounted for by overt neuropathology after clinical stroke, "covert" ("silent") infarction, and severity of anemia. However, cognitive deficits have also been identified in children with SCA with no history of stroke and a normal T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Our aim was to investigate whether nocturnal hemoglobin oxygen desaturation and sleep fragmentation could be associated with cognitive impairment in children with SCA. We assessed 10 children with SCA (9 with normal MRI) using neuropsychological measures of executive function. Cognitive assessment was immediately followed by overnight polysomnography to record nocturnal hemoglobin oxygen saturation and sleep arousals. Decreases in hemoglobin oxygen saturation and/or increased sleep arousals were associated with reduced performance on cognitive assessment. Nocturnal hemoglobin oxygen desaturation and sleep fragmentation may be a contributing factor to executive dysfunction in SCA.

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