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Dr. Karen Bonuck is a foremost expert on pediatric sleep and childhood sleep problems. Her research has been instrumental in bringing the issues of sleep-disordered breathing to many parents who are likely struggling with diagnosing some of the disorder’s many symptoms.

Sleep-disordered breathing in children can lead to various conditions—”from ADD/ADHD to chronic allergies, to bedwetting, to swollen tonsils and adenoids, to snoring, to crowded or crooked teeth, to restless sleep, to daytime drowsiness, to aggressive or oppositional behaviors, to difficulties in school, and more.

For many children, a compromised airway is the cause of fundamental issues that affect more than just their breathing. In Dr. Bonuck’s 2012 study “Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) in a Population-Based Cohort: Behavioral Effects at 4 and 7 Years,” she discovered that “children with sleep-disordered breathing were from 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop neurobehavioral problems by age 7, compared with children without breathing problems.”   

To conduct the study, Dr. Bonuck enlisted parents to complete a 25-question questionnaire which she sent to them by mail. The questions covered five areas of what she called “adverse behavior, and those areas included the following:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Peer relations
  • Conduct issues
  • Emotional symptoms
  • Prosocial behaviors

“It’s difficult to say whether a study establishes cause and effect,” Dr. Bonuck has said. “The fact that we measured the symptoms and then went on to predict the outcome years later in epidemiology certainly strengthens the case that there’s a strong association [between sleep disordered breathing and behavioral problems].”

Dr. Bonuck is a Professor of Family and Social Medicine, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Women’s Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She conducts research on pediatric sleep and parent-child interventions. Her areas of expertise are promoting healthy sleep in young children, epidemiology of sleep problems. Her extensive research has garnered worldwide attention and recognition. Dr. Karen Bonuck received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to promote healthy sleep among preschool children. Her team has partnered with Head Start, the early childhood program for disadvantaged preschool children.

Before joining Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Dr. Bonuck was an associate in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Montefiore Medical Center. She received her Ph.D.in Social Work/Health Services from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick.