Anesthetic neurotoxicity: what to tell the parents?

Authors

  • Michael E. Nemergut,

    1. Departments of Anesthesiology and Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
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  • Devon Aganga,

    1. Departments of Anesthesiology and Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
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  • Randall P. Flick

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Anesthesiology and Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
    • Correspondence

      Randall P. Flick, MD, MPH, Department of Anesthesiology, The Mayo Clinic, 200 First street SW, Mary Brigh 2-752, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

      Email: flick.randall@mayo.edu

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Summary

Over the past decade, numerous preclinical and retrospective human studies have reported that the provision of anesthetic and sedative agents to infants and children may be associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. These data have gained widespread attention from professional and regulatory agencies, including the public at large. As such, pediatric anesthesiologists are being increasingly questioned by parents about the risks of anesthetic agents on their children's neurocognitive development. To impart a framework from which anesthesiologists may address the apprehensions of parents who actively bring up this issue, we review the data supporting anesthetic neurotoxicity and discuss its strengths and limitations. As many parents are not yet aware and do not actively raise these concerns, we also discuss whether such a conversation should be undertaken as a part of the consent process.

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