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Kids Overcome Behavioral And Sleep Problems After Tonsillectomy

Children who have undergone tonsillectomy, a surgery that is performed to remove their tonsils, are found to behave and sleep better a year later.//

About half of the children who were found to have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder before tonsil surgery no longer met criteria for this diagnosis one year later. Other cognitive and behavioral issues also improved.

On the whole, the 78 children who had their tonsils out were much more likely than a comparison group of 27 children to have had behavior and sleep problems at the start of the study. But by the end of the study, tests showed little difference between the two groups.

The research paper is published online in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics by a team from the University of Michigan Health System. Data were collected from rigorous tests of sleep and breathing at night, and attention and behavior during the day. The results support previous observations of a link between children’s sleep-related breathing problems — such as snoring and breathing interruptions called apneas — and daytime behavior problems.

The researchers caution that their results do not yet prove cause and effect, and that tonsillectomy is not usually a “cure” for ADHD. But, they say, the growing body of evidence on this issue suggests that a significant number of children with inattention, hyperactivity, or sleepiness during the day – and also sleep-breathing problems at night – may benefit during both the night and day by tonsillectomy, an operation that was once performed on more than a million children a year but has become much less common in recent decades.

The procedure, also called adenotonsillectomy when both the tonsils and structures called adenoids are removed, is now performed on a few hundred thousand children a year. Nearly half of them have the surgery because enlarged tonsils and adenoids block the flow of air through their throat and impair their ability to br
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