Study finds link between ADHD and anesthesia


Children exposed to general anesthesia multiple times during the first two years of life are more likely to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study.

As part of the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnistoa and Children's Hospital in Boston analyzed the medical records of more than 5,300 children previously enrolled in other studies and published their findings in the February issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings

The study, CNN reported, found that kids who underwent at least two such surgeries before their second birthday were roughly twice as likely as their peers to develop ADHD by the time they were 19.

The potential effects on the developing brain also remain unknown, one of the study authors, Dr. David Warner, reportedly said.

However having a single surgical procedure did not appear to increase risk, CNN wrote.

And Warner, a co-author and professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic, also stressed that the study only found an association between the procedures performed on the children in the study and ADHD, ABC News reported.

"We need to do more work to confirm whether this is really a problem in children or not," he said. "We can't exclude there is a problem, but we also haven't determined there is a problem." 

The researchers explained in the study report that: "The cause[s] of ADHD symptoms are not known, but current theories emphasize the role of executive dysfunction such as behavioral disinhibition. Although ADHD is a heritable disorder, a gene-environment interaction may be important for its clinical expression."

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