Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with respiratory, allergic and infectious disease

Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with long-term risks of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases Removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood increases the long-term risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases, according to researchers who have examined -- for the first time -- the long-term effects of the operations. The researchers suggest renewed evaluation of alternatives to these common paediatric surgeries that include removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy) to treat chronic tonsillitis or adenoids (adenoidectomy) to treat recurrent middle ear infections. The adenoids and tonsils are strategically positioned in the nose and throat respectively to act as a first line of defense, helping to recognise airborne pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and begin the immune response to clear them from the body. The collaborative study initiated by the Copenhagen Evolutionary Medicine program looked at the long-term effects of removing the tonsils and adenoids in childhood, compared with children who had not undergone the surgeries. 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. The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. The team 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 removed. The children were otherwise healthy. "We calculated disease risks depending on whether adenoids, tonsils or both were removed in the first 9 years of life because this is when these tissues are most active in the developing immune system," Dr Byars said.