Tonsillectomy Helps Children Breathe, Sleep

Removing Tonsils and Adenoids Alleviates Sleep Disorder in Children

From the WebMD Archives

July 20, 2009 - A simple surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoid glands may help children with sleep-disordered breathing sleep and even behave better.

A new study shows that children with sleep-disordered breathing who received an adenotonsillectomy slept and behaved better than before they had the procedure for up to two and a half years later.

Although bigger improvement in the children’s sleep was seen six months after surgery, researchers say most of the improvements in the children’s behavior were maintained over the long term.

Researchers say since their initial six-month study of adenotonsillectomy on children with sleep-disordered breathing, further research has supported their finding that sleep-disordered breathing has a significant impact on children’s behavior and cognitive development over the longer term.

For example, other studies have shown that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hyperactivity, and behavior improve six to 12 months after adenotonsillectomy.

Sleep Better, Behave Better

In this study, published in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers followed up with 44 of the 71 children with sleep-disordered breathing that participated in the initial six-month study.

The children underwent an adenotonsillectomy and parents completed a questionnaire about their sleep and behavior six months afterward and again at least two years later.

Researcher Julie L. Wei MD, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and colleagues found most improvements in sleep and behavior were maintained over the long term, although the improvements were six months after the procedure and then declined slightly.

They estimate that if the improvements in behavior and sleep continued to fade by the modest 7% per year shown in the study, it would take nine or 10 years to return to the level the children at were at before the procedure.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on July 20, 2009



Wei, J. Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, July 2009; vol 135: pp 642-646. 

News release, American Medical Association. 

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