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Younger Kids Likelier to Gain Weight After Tonsillectomy
Date:9/12/2012

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Weight gain following a tonsillectomy is linked to children's age, not the underlying diagnosis, according to a new study.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins found that weight gain following tonsillectomy occurs most often in children 6 years old and younger, especially those who are underweight or normal weight at the time of the procedure.

The study involved 115 children aged 6 months to 18 years who had had their tonsils removed between 2008 and 2011 because of recurrent tonsillitis -- sore and swollen tissues at the back of the throat -- or the sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea. The researchers analyzed the children's medical records, which included detailed records of their weight.

Although it's widely believed that sudden increases in body mass index (BMI) following tonsillectomy occur mainly in children who had their tonsils removed due to sleep apnea, the researchers found the 85 children who had the surgery for sleep apnea and the 30 who had a tonsillectomy to treat tonsil inflammation had the same rate of weight gain. BMI is a calculation of body fat based on height and weight.

After taking the children's gender and height into account, the researchers found the only variable linked to weight gain was the children's age.

"Our study results show that parents' current concerns about weight gain are serious, but only underweight or normal weight children between the ages of 2 and 6 are most likely to gain even more weight, not older children," the study's senior investigator, Dr. Stacey Ishman, an otolaryngologist, sleep medicine expert and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.

The study identified an average weight gain of two to five pounds following surgery for both the children who had the surgery for sleep apnea and those with recurrent tonsillitis.

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