Giving anesthesia to pregnant women does not affect the development of the baby, study says

Researchers have found in a new study that giving anesthesia to pregnant women for emergency surgery has nothing to do with child development problems.



According to study author Stephen Rex and his colleagues and head of anesthesiology at the University Hospital Lowen in Belgium, the results of the study will not change the suggestion that only necessary operations should be performed during pregnancy. The results of the research will reassure women who will need surgery during pregnancy.


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Although surgery and anesthesia are usually avoided during pregnancy, up to 1% of pregnant women may need it for unexpected health emergencies, such as appendicitis.


The study, published october 25 in the journal Anesthesia, involved more than 500 children between the ages of 2 and 18, and compared the neural development of children whose mothers had been given anesthesia due to a medical emergency before birth to children whose mothers did not experience such a situation.


The researchers examined behavioral control, psychosocial problems, and learning problems with psychological assessments.


The researchers found no statistically significant differences between the two groups of children. The results showed that the effects of anesthesia were exactly the same as those of other factors such as parental education and the mother's age at childbirth.

Exposure to anesthesia during emergency surgery was not associated with clinically meaningful impairments, mothers who underwent anesthesia with modern medications and techniques, making the findings relevant today, the study authors said in a journal news release.


Past analysis of animal studies showed that general anesthesia during pregnancy can damage the fetal brain and impair learning and memory.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a warning in 2016 that repeated or prolonged use of general anesthesia during the third trimester of pregnancy could lead to developmental disorders in the fetus.


Delaying surgery is sometimes not an option. In the case of appendicitis, for example, a delay in treatment can lead to miscarriage or sepsis for the mother.


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