Problems of Inattention and Hyperactivity in Children Improve After Surgery to Treat Sleep Apnea
In a study published online in the April 2006
, researchers report that children who underwent adenotonsillectomy reported significantly lower rates of
About the Study
The researchers recruited 105 children, aged 5 – 13. Seventy-eight of these children were scheduled to undergo adenotonsillectomy, to treat either sleep apnea or repeated ear and throat infections. The other 27 children (the controls) were scheduled to undergo unrelated surgery (such as
Before surgery, the children scheduled for adenotonsillectomy were significantly more likely to have sleep apnea, be hyperactive, have lower cognitive attention, experience daytime sleepiness, and have an ADHD diagnosis than the children in the control group. One year after surgery, there were no significant differences between the two groups in any of these areas (in all cases, because of improvement in the adenotonsillectomy group). Interestingly, with the exception of daytime sleepiness, the children’s behavioral, cognitive, and psychiatric scores did not correspond to any measures of sleep or breathing taken during the overnight sleep study, either before or after the surgery.
How Does This Affect You?
In this study, children who underwent adenotonsillectomy had lower rates of cognitive and behavioral problems one year after surgery. This seems to suggest that treating the underlying sleep disturbance alleviated ADHD symptoms. It is important to remember, however, that the study was not designed to establish a cause and effect relationship between adenotonsillectomy and ADHD outcomes. In addition, nearly half of the children who had adenotonsillectomy had no sleep problems to begin with, and the children’s ADHD diagnoses did not closely correspond to their disturbed sleep. Adenotonsillectomy, therefore, should not be viewed as a treatment for conditions such as ADHD.
On the other hand, in those children whose sleep apnea may be contributing to persistent cognitive and behavior problems during the day, the surgeon may be of some help in selected cases where enlarged tonsils and adenoids are clearly to blame. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness during the daytime, and problems with attention and hyperactivity. If you suspect your child might have sleep apnea, talk to his or her pediatrician.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Chervin RD et al. Sleep-disordered breathing, behavior, and cognition in children before and after adenotonsillectomy. Pediatrics . 2006; 117:e769-e778.
Last reviewed Apr 6, 2006 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.