Anesthesia Deemed Safe for Pediatric Surgery

Dentistry Today


When surgery is necessary, anesthesia ensures that children can safely receive treatment while managing pain and discomfort, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Anesthesia’s effect on the developing brain is being researched continually, and the ASA considers the dose provided during one brief surgery to be safe. 

“Parents should rest assured that surgery is only recommended when necessary and your child will be monitored during every minute of the procedure to ensure the safest and most effective care,” said Linda Mason, MD, ASA president elect and a pediatric physician anesthesiologist.

“In an effort to continually improve anesthesia, physician anesthesiologists have been at the forefront of research on the effects of anesthesia on children and adults and continue to study this important issue,” said Mason.

In December 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning noting that repeated or lengthy use of general anesthesia or sedation drugs may affect the development of children’s brains. But the warning was based primarily on results from studies of laboratory animals that may not translate to humans, the ASA notes.

Also, the ASA says it is important to recognize that other factors may affect the developing brain, including the illness or condition being treated, existing health issues, the surgery itself, and inflammation.  

“There have been hundreds of studies published over the past 50 years investigating anesthesia’s effect on the developing brain with no conclusive findings on whether the use of anesthesia poses a risk. Parents should consider the benefits of surgery, which is likely necessary for their child’s health and safety,” Mason said.  

“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,” Mason said.

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