General anesthesia (GA) is usually considered to safely induce a reversible unconscious state allowing surgery to be performed without pain. A growing number of studies, in particular pre-clinical studies, however, demonstrate that general anesthetics can cause neuronal death and even long-term neurological deficits. Herein, we report our literature review and meta-analysis data of the neurological outcomes after anesthesia in the young. We also review available mechanistic and epigenetic data of GA exposure related to cognitive impairment per se and the potential preventive strategies including natural herbal compounds to attenuate those side effects. In summary, anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity may be treatable and natural herbal compounds and other medications may have great potential for such use but warrants further study before clinical applications can be initiated.

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