Mayo Clinic researchers have found that multiple exposures to anaesthesia at a young age are associated with higher rates of attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Children exposed to two or more anesthetics before age 3 had more than double the incidence of ADHD than children who had no exposure, says David Warner, MD, a Mayo Clinic paediatric anesthesiologist and investigator on the observational study.
The findings have been published in the 2 February edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
When basic science studies in the medical literature began to suggest anaesthesia used in surgery causes changes in the brains of young animals, Dr Warner and a group of researchers at Mayo Clinic took note.
"Those studies piqued our interest," Dr. Warner says. "We were skeptical that the findings in animals would correlate with kids, but it appears that it does."
The study utilised results of an existing epidemiological study that looked at educational records of children born between 1976 and 1982 in Rochester, Minn., and determined those who developed some form of learning disability or ADHD.