My son may need surgery, and a friend told me that anesthesia might cause problems
with brain development. Is this something I should talk about with my son's doctor?
Yes. Whenever surgery or a medical procedure is recommended for your child, talk
with the doctor about any concerns you have and get all of your questions answered.
Before some surgeries and procedures, medical staff give patients general
anesthesia or sedation drugs. The drugs put them into a deep sleep so they don't
feel pain or move around during the surgery.
But repeated use of the drugs, or a single use of general anesthesia or sedation
drugs for longer than 3 hours, might hurt the brain development of children younger
than 3 years old, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Anesthesia
given in a woman's third trimester of pregnancy also could harm the brain development
of her baby.
If a child under 3 needs general anesthesia or sedation
drugs, parents should ask their health care professional about:
risks related to brain development
the timing of the surgery or procedure, and whether it can be delayed without
creating health problems
how long the surgery or procedure will last and if repeated surgeries are necessary
Pregnant women in their third trimester who need general anesthesia or sedation
drugs should ask their health care professional about possible brain development risks
to their babies.
Surgeries for infants or toddlers that use general anesthesia or sedation drugs
for a single, brief period are not likely to hurt brain development, the FDA said.
The agency made the warning after looking at study findings, but says that more research