(NaturalNews) Operating off of evidence that hyperactivity symptoms in some children might be caused by sleep disorders, some doctors are now advocating tonsil removal as a potential treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"Eventually, I would like to be able to say 'I see a reason. Here are the sleep abnormalities, and he will do better a year later if he has a tonsillectomy,'" said neurologist Ronald Chervin, director of the sleep disorders lab at the University of Michigan Medical School.
In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, Chervin and colleagues examined 78 children whose tonsils had been removed and compared them with 27 children who had undergone other kinds of surgery. They found that children in the tonsillectomy group were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with behavioral and sleep problems before their surgeries than children in the comparison group. Of 22 children in the tonsillectomy group who had been diagnosed with ADHD, half were no longer considered to have the disorder one year after the surgery.
Chervin points to other studies that have linked sleep disturbance to ADHD, such as one that found significantly higher rates of habitual snoring among young boys with ADHD than among other children. A number of researchers now believe that 15 to 25 percent of ADHD cases may be caused by sleep disturbance, perhaps because the tired body overcompensates by becoming hyperactive.
"I'm perfectly convinced if a child doesn't sleep well, it can affect his cognitive function," Chervin said. "It doesn't mean it's a treatment for all children with ADHD, but it's a factor."
The researcher suggests that tonsillectomies may help because they improve the body's ability to breathe, thus providing a treatment for sleep disturbances such as snoring or sleep apnea.
Roughly 50 percent of tonsillectomies are prescribed because enlarged tonsils are interfering with a child's breathing.