Thursday 21 June 2018

Having tonsils removed 'triples the risk of developing asthma in later life'

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA

Henry Bodkin

Having tonsils removed more than triples the risk of developing asthma in later life, a new study suggests. The first long-term investigation into consequences of the common childhood procedure also found increased risk of influenza, pneumonia as well as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

As many as one in five people who underwent a tonsillectomy went on to suffer from serious diseases they would otherwise not have developed, the study showed.

Experts have said the 30-year research, which involved nearly two million children, indicates that while the modest benefits of the operation - preventing a recurring sore throat - mostly vanish by the age of 40, it boosts the lifetime risk of serious conditions.

They believe that removing the tonsils in the first decade of life may harm the development of the immune system and open the door to future disease.

Published in the 'Journal of the American Association of Medicine', the study urges paediatricians to limit their use of tonsillectomies as far as possible.

Numbers of the procedure have been dropping since a high the 1950s.

Led by scientists at the University of Copenhagen, the research team analysed data from 1,189,061 Danish children born between 1979 and 1999 who had undergone a tonsillectomy in their first nine years.

The procedure was associated with an almost tripled risk, moving the chances of developing asthma, influenza, pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), the umbrella term for conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, to 18.6pc.

The team also looked at the risks of having adenoids removed in childhood to treat recurrent middle ear infections.

This was found to be linked to a more than doubled risk of COPD, while nearly doubling risk of upper respiratory tract diseases and conjunctivitis.

Previous research has indicated that these surgeries may also be heightening the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks for those undergoing them at an early age.

Irish Independent

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