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The clinical pediatric anesthesiology community has been greatly affected by a growing body of research suggesting that sedative drugs and anesthetic agents may have long lasting detrimental neurocognitive effects in children. Various animal models have indicated apoptotic brain cell death and neurocognitive impairment following anesthetic exposure in early life. Although these studies cannot be directly extrapolated to anesthesia in children, parents and governmental regulatory agencies have been paying attention nonetheless. Adding to the evidence are a number of human epidemiologic studies that have documented neurologic deficits and cognitive decline following early anesthetic exposure. 1-4 Clinical studies in children exposed to general anesthesia have assessed outcome measures including academic performance or school readiness, validated neuropsychologic testing, and educational interventions for neurodevelopmental or behavioral problems.
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