Mayo Clinic Logo Undergoing various surgeries under anesthesia may have certain after-effects in an individual. Now, a latest study has stated that small children in such a scenario may have a higher risk of experiencing cognitive complications later in life. They say that children below the age of three, who experience anesthesia while undergoing multiple surgeries, may grow up to have learning problems. This study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic.

Previous studies on the brain’s of young animals is said to have yielded similar results. The present study is said to be the first study of its kind to have been conducted on human subjects. For the purpose of this study, medical records of more than 5,000 children were analyzed. This information was said to have been withdrawn from the Rochester Epidemiology Project.

Lead investigator, Robert Wilder, MD, PhD, Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist, has stated that, “The problem is that anyone who underwent an anesthetic also had surgery. It’s unclear whether it’s the anesthetic, the physiological stress of surgery or perhaps the medical problems that made surgery necessary that are responsible for the learning disabilities.”

The study investigators further say that inspite of having noticed a variation in the learning ability in young children who were exposed to anesthesia; these findings do not confirm the role played by anesthesia in bringing about the above mentioned changes. In other words, they state that they are not certain as to whether anesthesia can be credited for these learning disabilities in children, or not.

Some experts feel that such changes in the learning ability may be due to an exposure during the last month of pregnancy or the initial few months following birth. Thus, in order to evaluate this claim, the study investigators conducted an analysis on an anesthetic exposure before the age of two.

The study investigators recommended parents and doctors to consider all these point’s while deciding to permit a child to undergo surgery. They further say that although better alternatives may be available for such drugs, it would be unacceptable to conduct surgeries without proper use of anesthesia.

Their findings are published in the present issue of the Anesthesiology journal.