By Kathleen Blanchard Feb 2, 2012 - yesterday in Health
Children exposed to anesthesia before age 3 may have a higher risk of developing ADHD, suggests a new investigation. Researchers found two exposures to anesthesia might double the risk of attention-defici t/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids.
Mayo Clinic researchers observed the link after becoming intrigued by animal studies that showed anesthesia changes the brain of young animals.
In the study, led by David Warner, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric anesthesiologist and lead investigator looked at ADHD rates and learning disabilities in children born between 1976 and 1982 in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.
The research team found 341 cases of ADHD in youth under age 19 in medical records included in the Rochester Epidemiology Project, which is a complete database of patient care in Olmsted County, Minnesota.
A study published May, 2011, led by Dr. Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Professor of Anesthesiology and Neuroscience at the University of Virginia Health System also found a link between anesthesia and learning disabilities.
The study, presented at the "SmartTots: Pediatric Anesthesia Neurotoxicity panel" at the International Anesthesia Research Society annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C" linked Ketamine, an anesthetic drug used to sedate children for minor procedures to learning dysfunction, based on primate studies.
The current study found higher rates of ADHD in children exposed to anesthesia before age 3. Two or more exposures to anesthesia before age 3 was associated with 17.9 percent higher rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, even after adjusting for other factors including existing health conditions.
The researchers are planning more studies to clarify the finding. The current investigation found two or more exposures to anesthesia before age 3 more than doubled the incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, compared to children who had no exposure to anesthetic drugs.
ADHD causes symptoms that include inability to focus. The Mayo Clinic states symptoms in children can occur as early as age 2 or 3. Children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) have difficulty playing quietly, might talk excessively, have difficulty sitting still and are easily distracted. A medical exam is necessary for proper diagnosis.
The observational study, published February 2 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, doesn’t mean anesthesia exposure before age 3 definitely causes ADHD, but does suggest further studies are warranted, according to Dr. Warner.
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