Children suffering from congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) may suffer brain damage if they stop breathing during their sleep.
Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome is the absence of appropriate trigger mechanism that provides breathing over considerable time. Children suffering from CCHS may not breathe regularly during sleep, or even when awake. Alternately, the child may be able to breathe during wakeful hours but may not be able to do when carbon dioxide levels are higher, as when asleep.
The research done by scientists from UCLA says that the brains of these children show damage like strokes in areas of the brain responsible for cardiovascular system, urination and body temperature. The researchers had used the MRI scan images to come to their findings.
The research findings have noted that tissue injury happens in the brain when the patients of this disease do not breathe for even a small interval of time. This injury may prevent different parts of the brain from communicating to each other and thus stop the nervous system from carrying out a lot of involuntary responses. The damage to the brain may be quite extensive in the right side, that is responsible for emotions, to the anterior cingulate that regulate cardiovascular functions, and to the basal forebrain that controls amongst other things, sensors for carbon dioxide.
Reference: Journal of Comparative Neurology, July 2005