General anesthesia for hernia surgery in children and risk of later developmental problems

November 7, 2008

Children under the age of three who had hernia surgery showed almost twice the risk of behavioral or developmental problems later compared to children who had not undergone the surgery, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The study included 383 children who were born into the New York State Medicaid system between 1999 and 2001 who had surgery performed under general anesthesia to repair a groin hernia.

The researchers compared this group of children to 5,050 randomly selected, age-matched children in the Medicaid system, and found that five percent of the children exposed to anesthesia and 1.5 percent of the children in the control group were eventually diagnosed with a developmental or behavioral disorder. After adjusting for age, gender, race and such complicating birth diagnoses as low weight, the association between hernia surgery under general anesthesia and behavioral diagnoses was twice that in children who did not have surgery.

"We suspect that children who had hernia surgery and its associated exposure to general anesthesia during these operations might have played a role in the jump in risk," according to Charles DiMaggio, PhD, assistant professor of clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and lead author. "While there is no hard evidence that there is any causal association between anesthesia and developmental outcomes in children, research in animal models indicates that there may be some association between the types of anesthesia commonly used and neuronal or brain cell-level injury," said Dr. DiMaggio. "The early concern is, could these data be extrapolated to humans?"

According to Dr. DiMaggio, while the current study found an association between anesthesia use and neurodevelopmental problems, these are still preliminary findings, and not a reason to keep children from needed surgery. "This underscores the urgent need for more rigorous clinical research on the long-term effects of surgery and anesthesia in children," says Dr. DiMaggio.

Source: Columbia University

Explore further: Acupressure calms children before surgery

Related Stories

Acupressure calms children before surgery

October 1, 2008

An acupressure treatment applied to children undergoing anesthesia noticeably lowers their anxiety levels and makes the stress of surgery more calming for them and their families, UC Irvine anesthesiologists have learned.

Hormone treatment eases post-surgery distress in children

July 1, 2009

A scary unknown for many children, the prospect of surgery can cause intense preoperative anxiety. While some amount of stress is normal, what many parents do not know is that extreme anxiety before surgery can contribute ...

Calming Parents Might Help Kids Cope With Anesthesia

July 15, 2009

The start of anesthesia can be distressing for children. Although antianxiety drugs can help keep kids calm, side effects exist. Non-drug methods offer alternatives, but a new review of studies finds that no single method ...

Children's agitation after surgery may be preventable

October 8, 2010

Temporary combativeness after surgery—a complication affecting up to half of anesthetized children—may be preventable with drugs that decrease epinephrine production, according to a Medical College of Georgia pediatric ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.