Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children is associated with daytime functioning decrements in cognitive performance and behavioral regulation. Studies addressing academic achievement are underrepresented. This study aimed to evaluate the strength of the relationships between SDB and achievement in core domains and general school performance.
Data sources included PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. Studies of school-aged children investigating the relationships between SDB and academic achievement were selected for inclusion in a systematic literature review using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Data extracted were converted into standardized mean differences; effect sizes (ES) and statistics were calculated by using random-effects models. Heterogeneity tests (I2) were conducted.
Of 488 studies, 16 met eligibility criteria. SDB was significantly associated with poorer academic performance for core academic domains related to language arts (ES –0.31; P < .001; I2 = 74%), math (ES –0.33; P < .001; I2 = 55%), and science (ES –0.29; P = .001; I2 = 0%), and with unsatisfactory progress/learning problems (ES –0.23; P < .001; I2 = 0%) but not general school performance.
Variable definitions of both academic performance and SDB likely contributed to the heterogeneity among published investigations. Clear links between SDB and poorer academic performance in school-age children are demonstrated. ES statistics were in the small to medium range, but nevertheless the findings serve to highlight to parents, teachers, and clinicians that SDB in children may contribute to academic difficulties some children face.