Effects Of Anesthesia On Toddlers: Does Anesthesia Affect Small Kids’ Academics And Intelligence In The Future?

By Chiara Leghler, Parent Herald November 08, 04:56 am
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Anesthesia is said to have little to no effect observed when a child under four years of age undergoes surgery. Accordingly, having been exposed to anesthesia during the surgery will not affect intelligence or academic standing of a child in the future.

Reuters reported that although children who were exposed to surgical anesthesia before the age of four will have slightly lower grades than other kids, the difference is very small so parents should not worry about the effects. A new research from JAMA Pediatrics claimed that the low overall difference in academic performance after childhood exposure to surgical anesthesia is not, in any way, discouraging.

More than two million children from Sweden, who were born from 1973 to 1993, were studied by the researchers. 33,000 of the two million children reportedly had one surgery with anesthesia before the age of four and 159,000 were exposed to the same before reaching the age of 16.

As per the findings, children who had anesthesia had 0.41 percent lower school grades when they reached the age of 16 and 0.97 lower intelligence quotient scores at the age of 18. As for children who were exposed to anesthesia around two to three times before the age of four years old had one to two percent lower grades than the other children.

Lead author Dr. Pia Glatz, who is from Kalmar County Hospital in Sweden, assured that surgical anesthesia had less impact as compared to the mother's level of education, gender and birth month, which are all contributing factors to a child's intelligence. The authors of the study added that parents should push through with the needed surgery as their findings are not as discouraging as many believe it is.

Based on recent animal studies, anesthesia exposure may change brain development, CBC News reported. However, the doses and durations used in pediatric practice do not cause structural changes.

Dr. Tom G. Hansen, the co-author of an editorial that accompanied the study and is from Odense University Hospital in Denmark, said that it is all the more dangerous if the surgeries of children that young are postponed. The study's goal was to reassure that parents should push through with what is needed as it has little to no effect in terms of academic excellence.

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