Anaesthesia in early life linked to cognition and learning issues

REPEATED exposure to anaesthesiabefore the age of two years is associatedwith later learning difficulties, researchershave found in a population-based observational study.

Drawing on a cohort of 8000 children, a Mayo Clinic teamfound the 350 who had multiple exposures to anaesthesia before the age of two years had double the risk of difficulties with maths, reading or written language compared to 700 matched controlswho did not have early surgery.

A single exposure to anaesthetic conferred no increased risk.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that multiple exposures to anaesthesia/surgery may adversely affect neurodevelopment,” the researchers concluded.

Pediatrics 2011; online 3 Oct