Anesthesia Could Cause Learning Problems For Children, But There’s Nothing You Can Do About It

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I recently stumbled upon a study that linked anesthesia for children under two with learning disabilities. The research shows that children with multiple surgeries early in life had a higher chance of developing learning problems and needing individualized education programs. This is pretty significant information for parents whose children need surgery. But most surgeries for infants aren’t elective, so what are parents supposed to do if their child needs a medical procedure that would require anesthesia? According to doctors, nothing.

Is this a little confusing for anyone else? Anesthesia could cause learning disabilities. I say “could” because there’s little mention if it’s possible that the reasons behind the surgeries are creating learning and developmental problems. Or maybe extended time in the hospital and away from their home and parents might be the culprit. Or if the surgeries and the learning disabilities are often part of the same underlying issue. Basically, the study points to a correlation but does nothing to address causation, either how to determine it or what to do about it.

The lead doctor in this study, Dr. Randall Flick says that we shouldn’t let his findings change our surgical decisions because more information is needed to determine a course of action. My questions is why this information was published in the journal Pediatrics if it gives no conclusions and no possible suggestion for solution.

We at Mommyish have talked before about fearmongering when it comes to parenting studies. Sometimes I just wonder how much scientists are trying to help and how much they’re trying to make us worry. If anesthesia is dangerous, then we need to be looking into other ways to treat to young children who need surgery. But until another option is available, parents normally don’t have a choice when it comes to surgery. If the procedure were optional, no parent would put an infant through it.

If anesthesia is dangerous, please start looking into why and how we can make it safer. But until you have an answer, please don’t make me feel awful for a decision that really has no substitute. Let’s educate parents on matters in which they can actually have an impact or choice.