Professor Tom Marshall has said that “nothing terrible is going to happen” if children do not get their tonsils removed, after a report found that thousands of children are having “unnecessary” surgery.
Professor Marshall, of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Birmingham and author of the report, told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “We found that only one in eight children we looked at had had enough saw throats to justify surgery.”
He added: “Whether or not your child has their tonsils out; they will probably get over it in the next couple of years.
“The other thing to say is a great majority of children who are severely affected still do not have their tonsils out.
“That is something parents can be reassured with that if you choose not to have your child’s tonsils out, nothing terrible is going to happen.”
The benefit is 'modest'
The report looked at the UK medical records of more than 1.6 million children between 2005 and 2016.
It found that out of more than 18,000 children who had had their tonsils removed during this time, only 2,144 had had enough sore throats to justify surgery.
Professor Marshall said that removing the tonsils often had little to no benefit.
“The main reason for taking your tonsils out is because of frequent sore throats,” he said.
“If children have had a lot of sore throats and they are fairly severe then that is a reason for removing tonsils.”
He added: “If you have frequent severe sore throats then there is a benefit from having your tonsils removed.
“You will have slightly fewer sore throats if you have your tonsils removed.
“The benefit is quite modest and this has been known for quite some time.
“If you have frequent severe sore throats and you have your tonsils removed, you will have one fewer sore throat in the next year than if you didn’t.
“Whether or not you have them removed, they tend to improve anyway.
“By the time two years has elapsed, there really isn’t much difference.”