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20 October 2016

sleeping childNew research from UniSA is questioning whether the routine removal of tonsils and adenoids in children who snore is always beneficial.

Dr Scott Coussens and a team at UniSA reviewed scientific studies about the practice of removing tonsils as a treatment for snoring and other forms of mild sleep disordered breathing and found little evidence to support the practise.

Presenting his research at Sleep Down Under 2016, the annual conference of the Australasian Sleep Association from October 20 to 22 in Adelaide, Dr Coussens called for stricter guidelines around performing the operations, saying the procedure is probably effective in a much smaller number of children than undergo the procedure.

“Our research has shown that tonsillectomy is not the cure-all for snoring in kids and may in fact have harmful effects,” Dr Coussens says.

“This is especially so in cases of mild to moderate Upper Airway Obstruction (UAO).

“Considering the fact that very many children grow out of snoring or mild sleep disordered breathing and that the removal of tonsils and adenoids is not without risks during and after the surgery, we believe there needs to be more high-quality research into alternative treatment methods and new surgical guidelines.”

Dr Coussens says it is important to understand that good medicine is not static and it is the challenges to conventional wisdom that often produce advances.

“We understand the importance of good sleep in children’s lives, for their health, their cognitive development and their academic success,” Dr Coussens says.

“But I believe this research offers a clear case for changing our approach to treating sleep disturbances in children.

“Reducing the amount of unnecessary surgeries saves both lives and money.

 “We now need to explore what other treatments might be effective in managing sleep disturbance in children.” 

Media contacts: UniSA, Michele Nardelli +61 418 823673

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