About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three

Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three

Font : A-A+

  • Lengthy use of general anesthetic drugs during long surgical procedures can lead to possible improper brain development in children younger than three years
  • FDA issues a black box warning on anesthetic drugs
  • Anesthesia exposure during the first three years of life--a critical time for brain development can be harmful

Surgery, if possible should be delayed until after three years,delaying the surgery until after age one year may avoid most of the risks.


Prolonged anesthesia administration may pose as possible threat to brain development in children under the age of three, FDA issues an evidence based black box warning on the drugs in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Elective plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures lasting more than three hours can be delayed until after age three. According to the special topic paper by Dr. Christopher Armen Derderian of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues. If surgery can't be delayed, strategies to reduce the child's anesthesia exposure are recommended.

Risks of Anesthesia in Infants and Young Children

Late last year, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication warning saying that repeated or lengthy use of general anesthetic and sedation drugs during surgeries or procedures in children younger than three years or pregnant women during their third trimester may affect the development of children's brains.

This included adding a "black box warning" for several widely used anesthetic and sedative drugs. Dr. Derderian and colleagues provide an introduction to the evidence behind the FDA safety warning, how to discuss the risks with parents and steps to avoid or reduce exposure.

The FDA warning is based largely on studies in rats and other animals suggesting that prolonged exposure to anesthetic drugs in early life can have adverse effects on brain development.

These studies raised concerns about the possible harmful effects of general anesthetics on the developing human brain. The warning focuses on repeated exposure to anesthesia, or exposure lasting longer than three hours.There is particular concern about exposure during the first three years of life--a critical time for brain development.

Fortunately, most surgeries in this age group are less than three hours. The safety warning acknowledges that there are many situations where surgery in infants and young children cannot be avoided.

In plastic and reconstructive surgery, cleft lip and palate repair are specified as a procedure that usually needs to be performed before age 3 to achieve optimal results.

Intensive research is ongoing to clarify the potential harmful effects of anesthesia on the developing brain. Some studies using population databases have linked anesthesia exposure to adverse outcomes such as learning disabilities, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) and lower performance on standardized tests. Other studies have found no such effects, after accounting for other risk factors.

Formal studies are being performed to clarify the risks of anesthesia exposure during early childhood, but the final results won't be available for several years. Dr. Derderian said, "How do we deal with this potential risk until there is evidence?"

While it's not always clear whether early anesthesia versus delayed surgery poses the greater risk, the authors suggest that surgery should be delayed until after three years--if doing so will not cause any additional harm to the child. If possible, delaying surgery until after age one year may avoid most of the risks.

The authors also outline measures to reduce risk, including alternative strategies to reduce the amount of general anesthetic drugs required. Studies are underway to evaluate approaches including a sedative called dexmedetomidine, which may have protective effects on the brain.

In the meantime, Dr. Derderian and colleagues hope their article will help surgeons to understand the potential risks of anesthesia exposure in infants and young children. It also will provide guidance in communicating with parents about the current state of understanding of these risks, including the uncertainty involved. At this time, the authors conclude, "It is reasonable to say that we don't really know what the risk of longer or multiple anesthetics is."

Source: Eurekalert

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Rishika Gupta. (2017, October 03). Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three. Medindia. Retrieved on Aug 08, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/news/healthinfocus/anesthesia-can-pose-a-danger-to-kids-younger-than-three-173443-1.htm.

  • MLA

    Rishika Gupta. "Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three". Medindia. Aug 08, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/news/healthinfocus/anesthesia-can-pose-a-danger-to-kids-younger-than-three-173443-1.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Rishika Gupta. "Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/news/healthinfocus/anesthesia-can-pose-a-danger-to-kids-younger-than-three-173443-1.htm. (accessed Aug 08, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Rishika Gupta. 2021. Anesthesia can Pose a Danger to Kids Younger Than Three. Medindia, viewed Aug 08, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthinfocus/anesthesia-can-pose-a-danger-to-kids-younger-than-three-173443-1.htm.


News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
Test Your Knowledge on Lung Transplantation
Baldness can be Cured and Prevented: let us see How!
Drinking Beer or Wine Every Day Could Cause Age-related Diseases
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Dental Anesthesia Spinal and Epidural Anesthesia Local Anesthesia General Anesthesia Anaesthesia - History Height and Weight-Kids Anaesthesia - History and Origins Post operative Complications Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Acute Coronary Syndrome 

Most Popular on Medindia

Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Find a Hospital Daily Calorie Requirements A-Z Drug Brands in India Blood Donation - Recipients Find a Doctor Loram (2 mg) (Lorazepam) Color Blindness Calculator The Essence of Yoga Sanatogen
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use