The possibility that exposure to general anesthetics during early life results in long-term impairment of neural function attracted considerable interest over the past decade. Extensive laboratory data suggest that administration of these drugs during critical stages of central nervous system development can lead to cell death, impaired neurogenesis, and synaptic growth as well as cognitive deficits. These observations are corroborated by several recent human epidemiological studies arguing that such cognitive impairment might also occur in humans.
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