Early anesthesia may lead to cognitive deficits

September 1, 2012

A study finds that children exposed to anesthesia before their third birthdays are at higher risk for neuropsychological deficits later in childhood.

A study finds that children exposed to anesthesia before their third birthdays are at higher risk for neuropsychological deficits later in childhood.

Researchers analyzed data from 2,868 children born between 1989 and 1992 to determine whether exposure to anesthesia during the first 3 years of life had long-term effects on language and cognitive function.

Of 2,608 children on whom follow-up data were available, 321 were exposed to anesthesia before they were aged 3 years. Children who were exposed to anesthesia had a higher risk of clinical deficit in receptive, expressive, and total language as well as in abstract reasoning. Even children with only 1 exposure were at increased risk.

Ing C, DiMaggio C, Whitehouse A, et al. Long-term differences in language and cognitive function after childhood exposure to anesthesia. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3):e476-e485.