An important element of designing research studies is the selection of appropriate outcome measures to ensure that the question posed is properly answered given the evidence. The selection of outcome measures is especially important when tackling complex, interdisciplinary problems, where appropriate outcome measures may not be as simple as a blood test or a laboratory value. One such area of study is the research into neurodevelopmental outcomes after early exposure to anesthetic agents. Concern has arisen recently that certain anesthetic agents may be toxic to the developing brain; a public-private partnership, SmartTots, was formed in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration and various stakeholders to develop safe anesthetic regimens for neonates and infants who require surgery. However, as research has progressed, questions have arisen regarding the best outcome measures to use in order to detect a true effect, as well as the optimal window in which to measure. These issues were discussed in a round table meeting during the SmartTots meeting in September 2017, and a summary of the discussion is presented here.
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