Pre-clinical experimental evidence, along with a plausible biological rational suggests that exposure of neonates and young children to anesthesia may harm brain development. However, the translational relevance of these observations remains unsolved. While a variety of lasting morpho-functional effects can be attributed to early life exposure to anesthetics in laboratory animals, we do not have a convincing human phenotype that reflects any causal effects of general anesthetic exposure on brain development and functional outcome. This review is aimed to provide a comprehensive description of the current state of clinical research alongside exploring future challenges in this field by focusing on the critical appraisal of methodological approaches applied in clinical research into developmental anesthesia neurotoxicity.

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Vutskits & Davidson
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Anaesthesiology. March 2023