Yes, that's right -- studies show lack of sleep can change a child’s IQ as much as lead exposure. The story was recently published by Ascribe (The Public Interest Newswire): [Hyperlinks are mine.]
University of Virginia researchers have been studying sleep disturbances in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids for the past seven years. They discovered that youngsters who snore nightly scored significantly lower on vocabulary tests than those who snore less often. According to Dr. Suratt, the vocabulary differences associated with nightly snoring are equivalent to the IQ dissimilarities attributed to lead exposure.
"Studies show that, even at nontoxic levels, lead exposure can reduce a child's IQ by more than seven points," he notes.
"One of our most recent studies found that kids who snore nightly and spend less time in bed score significantly lower on cognitive tests than children who snore less frequently and spend longer times bed," Dr. Suratt explains. "We've also found that obstructive sleep disordered breathing (OSBD) occurs more often in African American children and, therefore, places them at greater risk of cognitive impairment."
While the comparison of snoring to lead poisoning is interesting, this study does not mean that they took kids with lead poisoning and tested them vs. kids with sleep disorders. These results are simply comparable.
However, they must be thought of as serious and important. The article seemed to focus on sleep disordered breathing from snoring to apnea, but my guess would be that children who were sleep deprived for any reason were at these risks as well.
This is just another wake up call that sleep is critical to our kids.