Since the discovery in 2003 of neurodegeneration and persistent cognitive impairments after exposure of infant rats to a cocktail of common general anaesthetics, 1 the implications of early life exposure to general anaesthesia for brain structure and function later in life have been an intense area of research and debate in anaesthesiology. As in many areas of biomedical research, translation between basic research in animal models and clinical research in humans remains challenging. This reflects a balance between the ability to perform experimental treatments in animals that cannot be done in humans, for example developmental anaesthetic exposure for research rather than therapeutic purposes, and the biological differences between animals and humans.

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