General anesthetics are crucial drugs for surgical interventions, which are indicated to induce analgesia, diminish pain, and reduce anxiety in order to facilitate invasive procedures. In pediatric patients, benefits of general anesthetics also include abolishment of motility. Besides their probed benefits on surgery, the recent warning of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the use of general anesthetics in children yielded a controversy on their potential neurotoxic effects. In this review, the main facts of the cerebral development are studied, and the available evidence concerning the use of general anesthesia on the neuropsychological development of children is analyzed. Most of the studies found were uncontrolled retrospective cohorts for which conclusions are difficult to obtain. However, a few group of controlled studies, including the Mayo Anesthesia Safety in Kids study (MASK), have partially supported the FDA warning. Cumulated evidence appears to support the safety use of general anesthetics, but no conclusive data supporting that it may induce massive effects on the cognitive development of exposed children has been reported. Important evidence suggests that specific cognitive functions may result altered under long-term expositions. Such data must be considered for those involved in anesthetic procedures.

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