Single-episode anesthetic exposure is the most prevalent surgery-related incidence among young children in the United States. Although numerous studies have used animals to model the effects of neonatal anesthetics on behavioral changes later on in life, our understanding of the functional consequences to the developing brain in a comprehensive and clinically relevant manner is unclear.


The volatile anesthetic, sevoflurane (sevo) was administered to C57BL6 postnatal day 7 (P7) mice in a 40% oxygen and 60% nitrogen gas mixture. In order to examine the effects of sevo alone on the developing brain in a clinically relevant manner, mice were exposed to an average of 2.38 ± 0.11% sevo for 2 h. No sevo (control) mice were treated in an identical manner without sevo exposure. Mice were examined for cognition and neuropsychiatric-like behavioral changes at 1–5 months of age.


Using the active place avoidance (APA) test and the novel object recognition (NOR) test, we demonstrated that P7 sevo-treated mice showed a deficit in learning and memory both during periadolescence and adulthood. We then employed a battery of neuropsychiatric-like behavioral tests to examine social interaction, communication, and repetitive behavior. Interestingly, compared to the no-sevo–treated group, sevo-treated mice showed significant reductions in the time interacting with a novel mouse (push–crawl and following), time and interaction in a chamber with a novel mouse, and time sniffing a novel social odor.


Our study established that single-episode, 2-h sevo treatment during early life impairs cognition later on in life. With this approach, we also observed neuropsychiatric-like behavior changes such as social interaction deficits in the sevo-treated mice. This study elucidated the effects of a clinically relevant single-episode sevo application, given during the neonatal period, on neurodevelopmental behavioral changes later on in life.