Child Anesthesia and Learning Disabilities

New research was recently published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism about the practice of anesthetizing children during various medical procedures. Experts are saying that there is a link between repeated anesthesia and memory loss. Klas Blomgren, professor at the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy explains that “this is a theory that is also supported by foreign research. Paediatric anaesthetists have long suspected that children who are anaesthetised repeatedly over the course of just a few years may suffer from impaired memory and learning.” “We found that repeated anaesthesia wiped out a large portion of the stem cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory,” said Blomgren. The study did have what appears to be a positive out-come. Blomgren explained that “the stem cells in the hippocampus can form new nerve and glial cells, and the formation of nerve cells is considered important for our memory function.” He went on to explain that physical exercise stimulates the production of new cells and that “the new nerve cells seem to work better in animals that exercise. Now that we know this, we can come up with treatments that prevent or reverse the loss of ostem cells after repeated anaesthesia.”

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