At Aegis Anesthesia, we are aware of the growing concern regarding the possible effects of anesthesia on the neurological development of young children. Because the safety and well-being of your children is our highest priority, we feel it is imperative that parents know the facts surrounding this issue.
Research and News on Anesthesia Safety
The effect of anesthesia on the developing nervous system and brain is not a new issue. Several universities and institutions, including the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), an internationally recognized research center at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have been participating in the search for answers. Many of the studies conducted regarding the effects of anesthetics on the brain during developmental periods have been performed on animal subjects. Some of this research has demonstrated that exposure to commonly used anesthetics and sedatives may cause harmful changes, including memory and learning difficulties. However, there is not sufficient evidence to determine whether these findings can be applied to the more than 1 million children under the age of 4 that undergo surgical procedures requiring anesthesia each year.
In contrast, another study looking at neonates undergoing congenital heart surgery at Texas Children’s Heart Center found that the amount of anesthesia and sedation received in the perioperative period does not affect neurological outcomes. This was based on testing at 12-24 months of age.
While most children appear to recover well from anesthesia, the results from these studies call for further research to ensure the safety of all young children undergoing anesthesia.
Read more about anesthesia safety at the SmartTots website, whose mission it is ensure the safety of anesthetic exposure in children.
Individualized Care for Pediatric Patients
Until a consensus can be reached, children requiring surgery should proceed as directed by their physician. Surgical procedures on young children are typically not recommended unless the procedure is essential to their wellbeing. As a result, delaying a necessary procedure may lead to significant health issues, and may not be an option many children.
Children are not just “small adults”. We have a team of specialty-trained anesthesiologists dedicated to providing individualized anesthesia care to your children. Each child receives the anesthesia drugs and doses tailored to their needs to ensure their surgery can be performed safely and successfully.
Defining Safe Use of Anesthesia in Children NEJM PDF Download
Bob Rappaport, M.D., R. Daniel Mellon, Ph.D., Arthur Simone, M.D., Ph.D., and Janet Woodcock, M.D.
N Engl J Med 2011; 364:13871390
April 14, 2011 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1102155