Bad news for parents with toddlers that had problems during the first two years of life that required general anesthesia several times. Scientists have found that anesthesia in toddlers is linked to ADHD development.
A new study published in the current issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that children younger than two years old who underwent more than one procedure that called for anesthesia were more likely to develop ADHD.
Mayo Clinic and Children’s Hospital researchers looked at the medical records of 5,300 children born in Rochester, Minnesota, between 1976 and 1982. Out of the total, only 350 children underwent a surgical procedure, so the sample is not enough to draw a firm conclusion.
ABC News writes that Dr. David Warner, a co-author and professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic, pointed out that the “study only found an association between the procedures performed on the children in the study and ADHD”.
He said: “We need to do more work to confirm whether this is really a problem in children or not. We can’t exclude there is a problem but we also haven’t determined there is a problem”.
Findings show that one surgical procedure isn’t likely to increase the risk of developing ADHD. However, infants with two or more procedures involving anesthesia had a 17.9 percent higher chance of developing the disorder.
Based on the records investigated, scientists found that 7.3 percent of those with no exposure to anesthesia and 10.7 percent of those with just one exposure went on to develop ADHD.
Senior study author David O. Warner, M.D., a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, explained that the longer a child was unconscious, the greater the ADHD risk. Thus it seems that several short exposures to anesthesia could raise the risk.
Dr. Rod Eckenhoff, vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, wasn’t involved in the study but told ABC News that “it’s not normal for a one year old to have two surgeries before the age of two, so maybe there are some underlying conditions that leads them to surgery”.