Unsure of Anesthesia’s Effects on Young Brains, Researchers Recommend Awareness

September 3, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Although anesthesia is considered safe in patients of all age groups, researchers call attention to recent animal studies questioning the long-lasting neurotoxic effects of anesthesia use in very young, developing subjects (e.g., newborns, infants). Results of researchers' literature review are published online in the September issue of Anaesthesia. The researchers identify three factors related to the potential toxicity of anesthesia use. First, the timing of exposure: researchers note that the "brain growth spurt," which in animals lasts up to three weeks and in humans may last until age three, is the most vulnerable time. Second, the frequency and length of exposure: "A direct relationship between the duration of exposure and the induction of apoptosis has been detected in in vitro and in vivo," write the researchers.

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