Children on the adenotonsillectomy waiting list aged 6 years or more were screened by questionnaire and overnight sleep monitoring to identify 12 with a moderate sleep and breathing disorder (SBD) group. They were matched by age and sex with 11 children who had a similar history of snoring and sleep disturbance but without an obvious sleep and breathing problem when monitored (snorer group) and also with a group of ten children most of whom were refered for an unrelated surgical procedure (control group). All children were studied before and 3-6 months after surgery. Pre-operatively the SBD and snorer groups both had significantly more restless sleep than the control group. The SBD group also had significantly more (> 4%) dips in oxygen saturation than the other two groups. After surgery there were no longer any significant differences between the three groups. After adenotonsillectomy the SBD group showed a significant reduction in aggression, inattention and hyperactivity on the parent Conners scale, and an improvement in vigilance on the Continuous Performance Test. The snorer group also improved showing less hyperactive behaviour than pre-operatively and better vigilance. The control groups's behaviour and performance did not change significantly. There were no significant changes in the performance of the Matching Familiar Figures Test in any of the groups.
Conclusion: Relief of mild to moderate sleep and breathing disorders in children is associated with improved behaviour and functioning. We confirm previous work which suggests that the relation between sleep disordered breathing and daytime problems in children is a causal one.