Two major literature review articles and three editorials by experts on the effects of anesthesia in the developing brain were published in a recent issue of Anesthesiology, the peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), to address a warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2016 noting that repeated or lengthy use of general anesthesia and sedation drugs may affect the development of children’s brains. The warning was based primarily on results from studies of laboratory animals that may not translate to humans.

Experts at the ASA have contributed to the ongoing body of research on anesthesia and children and say anesthesia provided during one surgery lasting under three hours, which are the majority of surgeries needed in children, is considered safe.

Pediatric physician anesthesiologist Linda Mason, M.D., FASA, president-elect of ASA, can discuss ways that both parents and children can prepare for surgery, including the most common questions parents have about anesthesia safety.

ASA is committed to advancing research regarding this issue. Through the SmartTots program, ASA partners with the International Anesthesia Research Society and the FDA to support research funding to investigate the safety of anesthesia for infants and young children.

Additional information from ASA on children and anesthesia is available here.