FDA to study whether anesthesia poses cognitive risks in young children

The New York Times, March 10, 2011
A federal panel will meet on Thursday to evaluate growing concerns about whether anesthesia in young children, used in millions of surgical procedures, can in some cases lead to cognitive problems or learning disabilities. The meeting was prompted by a growing body of research, so far primarily in animals, that suggests a correlation between anesthesia exposure and brain cell death or learning problems, said Dr. Bob Rappaport, the Food and Drug Administration's director of the division of anesthesia and analgesia products, who wrote about the issue in Wednesday's New England Journal of Medicine. The F.D.A. advisory panel will evaluate the research, suggest further studies and discuss whether parents whose children are facing surgery should be informed of possible cognitive or behavioral risks.

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