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A less risky anesthesia for babies

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Concerns about the risk of general anesthesia are leading more hospitals to use spinal anesthesia for infants and toddlers who undergo surgery. This method immobilizes children and keeps them free of pain but still awake. Exposure to anesthetics may cause memory loss, learning difficulties, and other damage in developing brains.

Concerns about the risk of general anesthesia are leading more hospitals to use spinal anesthesia for infants and toddlers who undergo surgery. This method immobilizes children and keeps them free of pain but still awake. Exposure to anesthetics may cause memory loss, learning difficulties, and other damage in developing brains. Spinal anesthesia is associated with fewer breathing complications and faster recoveries, so children can go home sooner. The technique is primarily reserved for procedures that last no longer than 90 minutes and involve the abdominal area and lower extremities. Although the method is not in wide use, spinal anesthesia was first used by the University of Vermont Children's Hospital 40 years ago. Kennith Sartorelli, a pediatric surgeon at the hospital, says the facility has since performed more than 2,500 surgeries using spinal anesthesia, with no major complications. FDA is partially funding a trial—involving 28 hospitals in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand—that seeks to measure intelligence at age 5 years in more than 700 infants who received either general or spinal anesthesia during hernia repair procedures. Interim results of the GAS study found no difference in cognitive function at age 2 years, though lead investigator Andrew Davidson of Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, notes that more will be known upon the study's completion in 2017, as "some aspects of neurodevelopment cannot be assessed at 2 years of age."

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-less-risky-anesthesia-for-babies-1449514284

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