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Thursday
Mar102011

FDA to Hold Meeting on Anesthesia's Link to Learning Disabilities in Kids

Pixland/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a panel meeting Thursday to explore whether or not anesthesia use in children can cause learning disabilities.

Studies in the past have shown a possible link between anesthesia exposure in young rats and monkeys and the death of their brain cells.  However, that link has not yet been made clear in humans.  But a 2009 study reported in Anesthesiology, found that children who were exposed to anesthesia twice before the age of four were 59 percent more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities than those who weren't.

"We need to definitively answer the questions of whether anesthetic use in children poses a risk to their development and, if so, under what circumstances," Bob Rappaport, MD, the head of the FDA's anesthesia and analgesia products and his colleagues wrote in an article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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