PHOTO: AZPM
New research looks at possible connections between Down Syndrome and sleep disorders in children.

Research under way at the University of Arizona is revealing a connection between quality of sleep and the learning and memory functions in children with Down Syndrome.

"It's well known that children with Down Syndrome are vulnerable to developing sleep apnea which results in pauses in breathing," UA psychology student Jennifer Breslin says. Breslin has been conducting a study looking at children with Down Syndrome and the occurrence of sleep apnea.

"if we can demonstrate that kids with poor sleep have poor cognitive outcomes, we can make a case for intervention and ultimately improving their behavior and learning ability," she says. "If we could give these kids a better quality of life, that would be awesome."

The developmental disorder is caused by an extra chromosome and is named after John Langdon Down, a British physician who described the illness in 1866.

"Down Syndrome is the most common genetic form of intellectual disability and usually occurs in 1 to 600 live births," Dr. Jamie Edgin of the UA's Down Syndrome Research Group says.

Note: The Down Syndrome Research Group at the University of Arizona is still recruiting participants for this study of sleep and learning, as well as other research studies relating to the cognitive difficulties in DS. For more information, visit their website here.