Does Tonsillectomy Increase Obesity Risk in Children with Down Syndrome?

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.04.019; PMCID: PMC7004651


Objectives: To examine weight changes relative to surgical success in children with Down syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Study design: Retrospective chart review of children with Down syndrome undergoing tonsillectomy from 2005 to 2016 for OSA at a tertiary care children's hospital. Only patients with pre-and postoperative polysomnogram within 6 months of tonsillectomy were included. Demographics, weight, height, and polysomnogram data were collected. Body mass index (BMI), expressed as a percentage of the 95th percentile (%BMIp95), was calculated for 24 months prior to and following surgery. Pre-and postoperative OSA severity were also recorded. The postoperative obstructive/hypopnea index identified subjects with resolution of obstruction (obstructive/hypopnea index/hour) or persistent mild/moderate/severe obstructive apnea. Regression analyses were used to compare %BMIp95 pre- and post-tonsillectomy with %BMIp95 by OSA status following tonsillectomy.

Results: A total of 78 patients with Down syndrome whose mean age was 5.29 years at time of tonsillectomy were identified. There was no difference between best-fit curves of %BMI p95 pre-and post-tonsillectomy. There was no difference between best-fit curves of %BMI p95 in patients who saw resolution of OSA after tonsillectomy vs patients with residual OSA.

Conclusions: Tonsillectomy neither alters the BMI trajectory of children with Down syndrome, nor changes differentially the risk for obesity in children whose OSA did or did not resolve after surgery.

Journal Title

The Journal of pediatrics



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MeSH Keywords

Adolescent; Body Mass Index; Child; Child, Preschool; Down Syndrome; Female; Humans; Infant; Male; Pediatric Obesity; Regression Analysis; Retrospective Studies; Sleep Apnea, Obstructive; Tonsillectomy


BMI; obstructive sleep apnea; polysomnogram; weight gain

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