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Anesthesia in Young Kids Leads to Learning Disabilities (because chemicals harm the brain)

Thursday, July 30, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: anesthesia, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Exposure to anesthesia more than once before the age of three appears to significantly increase a person's risk of developing learning disabilities in childhood, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Medical School and published in the journal Anesthesiology.

The researchers examined the medical records of all children born in one of five towns in Olmstead County, Minn., between the years of 1976 and 1982. They compared data on anesthesia exposure before the age of three and the diagnosis of a learning disability before the age of 19 in the 5,357 of these children who had lived in Olmstead County until at least the age of five.

Among children who had been exposed to anesthesia once before the age of three, the risk of learning abilities was the same as among children who had never been exposed. Two anesthesia exposures, however, increased the risk of learning disabilities by 59 percent, while three or more exposures increased the risk by 160 percent.

This is the first study to directly demonstrate a connection between early anesthesia exposure and learning disabilities in humans. Prior human studies have shown connections between early surgeries and the later development of developmental or behavioral problems.

The most common drugs used to anesthetize the children in the study were nitrous oxide and halothane. Halothane has been discontinued in the United States, but has been replaced by drugs that act similarly in the body. Nitrous oxide remains popular.

Lead author Robert Wilder warned that the study does not mean that parents should keep their children from undergoing potentially life-saving operations.

"Even if I knew for a fact that anesthesia might be increasing the risk for learning disabilities, my advice would still be, if your kid needs to have surgery done, they're better off having the anesthetic," Wilder said.

"Of course, you don't want to submit your kid to any unnecessary surgical or medical procedure, but that would have been my advice before studying this."

Sources for this story include: health.usnews.com.

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