Scientists Link Tonsil Problems with Sleep Disturbances and AD/HD Misdiagnoses

Study shows that inflamed tonsils can cause similar symptoms as AD/HD and that removing them may solve the problem.

Thursday June 1st - 12:00am

A recent study suggests that sleep disturbances caused by inflamed tonsils can cause childhood behavioral and cognitive problems often incorrectly attributed to AD/HD - and that surgical removal of the tonsils can curb these problems in some children.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center in Ann Arbor, involved 78 children who underwent tonsillectomy and 27 children with healthy tonsils. Researchers found that behavior and sleep problems were more common among children who had tonsil problems, and that, following tonsillectomy, these children slept and behaved just as well as kids with healthy tonsils.

The researchers theorize that inflamed tonsils can cause breathing difficulties during sleep, and that the resulting loss of sleep can lead to behavior and cognitive problems during the day. Previous studies suggested links between sleep problems, breathing difficulties, and daytime behavior.

Study leader Ronald Chervin, M.D., warned that tonsillectomy is not a cure for AD/HD. Rather, he said, parents and physicians should be aware that sleep deprivation can be a factor in attention problems and behavior issues.

The study was published in the April 2006 issue of Pediatrics.

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