Tonsillectomy Improves Behavior and Sleep Patterns in Children
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It may seem unlikely, but surgery to remove a child's tonsils may actually help kids with behavioral problems. A recent study shows children who have their tonsils out are significantly more likely to improve in both behavioral and sleep problems than children who do not have the surgery.
While the University of Michigan Health System researchers say their findings do not yet suggest tonsillectomy as a cure for ADHD, they note there is a growing body of evidence indicating children with inattention, hyperactivity, or daytime sleepiness may benefit from a tonsillectomy.
Previously, the procedure was performed on more than a million children a year, now, however, it is performed on a few hundred thousand a year. The surgery is usually done to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids that block the flow of air, making it difficult to breathe. The procedure is also commonly performed in children who suffer from repeated ear and throat infections. Nearly all children who undergo the surgery also suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea.
Among the children in the study, 22 were diagnosed ADHD at the start of the study. Eleven of those children no longer met the criteria for diagnosis one year after having the tonsillectomy. This, say researchers, suggests there is a connection between sleep and breathing problems and ADHD.
Researchers believe interruptions in sleep, such as those caused by obstructive sleep apnea, cause the brain to wake up, often without the person being aware of it. These interruptions in sleep are believed to affect behavior during the day.
Based on their findings, researchers suggest parents of a child who snores or has other nighttime breathing problems have their child evaluated for sleep problems and perhaps consider a tonsillectomy. They urge parents of children with behavioral problems to heed this advice.
Future studies are expected to look at brain activity and sleep problems.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online April 2006
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.