A study coming out in the September issue of Pediatrics finds that children who have anesthesia before the age of 3, are at a higher risk for developmental delay issues later in life.
The study looked at more than 2,600 children in Australia who were tracked as part of the Raine Study. Authors found that by the age of 10, children who’d been exposed to anesthesia at a young age were more than twice as likely to have developmental issues with listening and speaking comprehension.
"We can’t determine if the cause is due to anesthesia, surgical stimulus, or the medical condition. It could be another factor entirely. We just know there’s a difference,” says Dr. Caleb Ing, assistant professor of pediatric anesthesiology at Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the study.
Dr. David Warner, professor of anesthesiology at Mayo Clinic, has also been studying the impact anesthesia has on development. While he was not part of this study, Warner agreed that surgery and anesthesia introduce a whole host of factors that may impact a child’s developmental outcome.
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