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Sleep Benefits From Tonsillectomy Peak at 6 Months

For kids with breathing issues, having tonsils removed helps most right after surgery

TUESDAY, July 21, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Children who had their tonsils and adenoids removed slept better after having the procedure, but the benefit began to decline six months post-surgery, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City analyzed data on 44 children who had sleep-disordered breathing prior to undergoing surgery to remove their tonsils and adenoids, which are glands in the back of the throat.

Before surgery, at six-months post-surgery, and between 2.4 years and 3.6 years after the surgery parents filled out questionnaires to assess their children's sleep habits, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, cognitive issues, hyperactivity and oppositional behavior.

As time passed, scores on an index of breathing disorders began to worsen at a rate of 7 percent per year, the researchers found.

Still, after about 2.5 years, the children were doing better overall on nearly all measures, including sleep-disordered breathing, hyperactivity and oppositional behavior.

Only ADHD index scores had returned to where they were prior to surgery, the study authors noted.

"Our longitudinal study demonstrates that improvements in sleep and behavior may not be exactly maintained over time, but at 2.5 years after the surgical intervention, all parameters reported in this study except the ADHD index remained below baseline values," the authors wrote.

The study appears in the July issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

The primary symptom in children with sleep-disordered breathing is loud, persistent snoring, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery. Children with sleep-disordered breathing suffer from sleep deprivation, which can lead to moodiness, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and inattentiveness at school. Sleep-disordered breathing can also interfere with a child's growth.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery has more on sleep-disordered breathing in children.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, July 20, 2009
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