New York: Infants who are given general anesthesia more than once are twice are likely to have learning disabilities later on than children never exposed to the drugs, a new study suggests.The results add to mounting evidence -- from experiments in animals and observational studies in humans -- that anesthesia might injure young developing brains."There`s a persistent association between multiple anesthetic exposures during the first two years of life and subsequent problems with learning," lead author Dr. Randall Flick, a professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told a news agency.Whether the anesthesia is actually causing those disabilities is not clear, and experts caution that these results should not influence doctors` and parents` decisions to treat children who need painful procedures."This should not get in the way of having children receive adequate surgical care," said Dr. Bob Rappaport, head of the US Food and Drug Administration`s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction Products.General anesthesia is used to make people unconscious, and therefore unable to experience pain sensations, during invasive or painful procedures.In young animals, exposure to anesthetic drugs causes the normal process of pruning extra brain cells to become more pronounced and widespread, and the animals end up with learning and behavior problems later in life.Flick and his colleagues compared the learning skills of 350 children who had received one or more doses of anesthesia before the age of two to 700 children who had never been put under.
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