Research has highlighted a good reason to think again about having your child’s tonsils removed at a very young age

Being told that your child may need a tonsillectomy and/or an adenoidectomy to prevent tonsillitis and inner ear infections is not welcome news. It means you have to choose between putting your child through surgery, often at a very young age, or watching them suffer (and suffering alongside them) every time they get sick.

Now a recent study has added a new consideration.

Researchers have found that removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood increases the long-term risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases.

Almost 1,2 million children studied

The study looked at the long-term effects of removing the tonsils and adenoids in childhood, compared with children who had not undergone the surgeries.

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Our observed results that show increased risks for long-term diseases after surgery support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce these possible later-life disease risks – Dr Sean Byars

University of Melbourne researcher Dr Sean Byars and Professor Jacobus Boomsma from the University of Copenhagen led the research, with Professor Stephen Stearns from Yale University analysed a dataset from Denmark of 1 189 061 children born between 1979 and 1999, covering at least the first 10 years and up to 30 years of their life.

Of the almost 1,2 million children, 17 460 had adenoidectomies, 11 830 tonsillectomy and 31 377 had adenotonsillectomies, where both tonsils and adenoids are removed. The children were otherwise healthy.

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The analysis showed:

Tonsillectomy was associated with an almost tripled relative risk – the risk for those who had the operation, compared with those who didn’t – for diseases of the upper respiratory tract. These included asthma, influenza, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), the umbrella term for diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Adenoidectomy was found to be linked with a more than double the relative risk of COPD and a nearly doubled relative risk of upper respiratory tract diseases and conjunctivitis.

So, what are parents to do?

Aim to delay the procedures advise researchers

The researchers note that there will always be a need to remove tonsils and adenoids when those conditions are severe.

“But our observed results that show increased risks for long-term diseases after surgery support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce these possible later-life disease risks,” advises Dr Byars.

“As we uncover more about the function of immune tissues and the lifelong consequences of their removal, especially during sensitive ages when the body is developing, this will hopefully help guide treatment decisions for parents and doctors.”

Source: University of Melbourne via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.