Clinicians treating infants or young children who require surgery face a number of difficult choices, often with limited evidence to guide their decision making. One emerging concern is whether some interventions, particularly anesthesia, may cause additional harm to these vulnerable patients.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has drawn attention to the concerns surrounding anesthesia safety for children and infants and has launched some efforts to provide clinicians with information to help guide practice. In March, the agency convened a panel of experts to assess a growing body of evidence from animal studies that suggests anesthetic agents may harm developing brains, leading to lasting behavioral and cognitive deficits, as well as emerging data from clinical studies that suggest anesthetics may be associated with later cognitive deficits in pediatric patients under some conditions but not others.
Kuehn BM. FDA Considers Data on Potential Risks of Anesthesia Use in Infants, Children. JAMA. 2011;305(17):1749-1753. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.546