Pediatric Anesthesia Causes Brain Damage in Infant Rats

A team of researchers has found that drugs commonly used to anesthetize children can cause brain damage and long-term learning and memory disturbances in infant rats. The researchers report their findings in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. “We frequently perform surgical procedures on children, including premature infants, and those procedures have become increasingly more complex and take longer to perform,” says the study’s lead author Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia Health System. “That means many pediatric patients are being exposed to anesthetic drugs more frequently and for longer periods of time. Our results would suggest that might be problematic.”