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Tonsillectomies cause kids to gain excess weight

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: tonsillectomies, weight gain, health news

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(NaturalNews) When kids complain of sore throats and their tonsils appear infected, the condition known as tonsillitis, doctors are often quick to urge the surgical removal of these clumps of lymphatic tissue found on both sides of the throat. Tonsils are also cut out when babies and young children are found to have enlarged tonsils that are sometimes linked to heavy or raspy breathing, especially at night. In fact, tonsillectomy is the most common major surgery performed on children and it's a huge money-maker for mainstream medicine.

Why remove tonsils instead of using less invasive treatments to fight an infection? The reasoning goes that surgery will prevent future tonsillitis. After all, it's a no-brainer that if tonsils no longer exist, they can't become infected. But what's rarely discussed is the fact tonsils are actually part of the body's immune system; they fights infection and trap germs coming in through the mouth and nose.

And now there's another reason to think twice about having your child's tonsils surgically removed. Having a tonsillectomy could lead to obesity.

According to a new report just published in the February 2011 issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, youngsters subjected to tonsillectomy, with or without the removal of their adenoids (adenoidectomy), are at increased risk for becoming overweight after the operation.

In all, the researchers analyzed studies involving 795 children from birth to 18 years old, described as normal weight or overweight, who had a tonsillectomy or an adenoidectomy, or both. In almost 50% of the children, the primary reason for surgery was listed as "disordered breathing" that was blamed on enlarged tonsils.

In one group of 127 children, body mass index (BMI) increased by 5.5 to 8.2% following the removal of tonsils. In a second group that included 419 patients, standardized weight scores increased dramatically in the vast majority of the young patients. Another group included three studies with 249 patients -- and 50 to 75% of these kids gained weight after adenoidectomy.

Lead author of the paper, otolaryngology specialist Anita Jeyakumar, MD, suggested that the weight gain could be blamed on parents who over-feed their child after surgery. She also hypothesized that children with chronic tonsillitis might eat less due to sore throats and other symptoms so when their tonsils are removed, the kids feel like eating more.

But this doesn't explain why the youngsters would become overweight and sometimes downright obese after the operation. Although the new study doesn't delve into the possibility that the actual removal of the tonsils could play a role in the weight gain, the findings raise more questions than answers. For example, could the tonsils play an as yet undiscovered role in metabolism? Or does the removal of part of the body's immune system spur weight gain?

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