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Anesthesia Linked to Children's Behavioral Disorders

Saturday, March 28, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: anesthesia, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Children who receive general anesthesia at a young age are significantly more likely to suffer later from behavioral or developmental disorders, according to a study conducted by researchers from Columbia University and presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Researchers compared 625 children who had been given general anesthesia for a hernia surgery they received before the age of three with 5,000 children who had never been given general anesthesia. All children in the study were born between 1999 in 2000, and the children with an anesthesia history were part of the New York State Medicaid program.

The researchers found that children who had been anesthetized at a young age were more than twice as likely to suffer from behavioral, language or other developmental disorders as those who had not: 4.8 percent of the anesthetized children had been diagnosed with such disorders, compared with only 1.5 percent of the children in the control group.

Researcher Lena Sun said that the study should not lead parents to prevent their children from having needed surgeries, but that it does emphasize the need for more research on the risks of anesthesia.

She noted that economically disadvantaged children such as those in the current study might also be more susceptible to behavioral and developmental disorders or to the risks of anesthesia than the general population. But the results of the current study could not be explained away by other risk factors such as demographic status, low birth weight, premature birth or infection, she added.

In addition, studies on mice have previously linked anesthesia to various kinds of brain damage.

The researchers are now planning a follow-up study in which children who were given general anesthesia at a young age will be compared to siblings who were never given such anesthesia.

"Our findings are preliminary but provocative," Sun said.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com; www.webmd.com.

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