Anaesthetics kill neurons in the brains of neonatal animals, including non-human primates, and cause permanent and progressive neurocognitive deficits.

The results of translational studies in people have raised concerns that the findings in animals might be true for human infants as well—ie, anaesthetic exposure during a susceptible period of development can lead to neuronal cell death and, more importantly, neurocognitive decline.  However, as Ricardo Carbajal and colleagues, the investigators of the EUROPAIN study, note in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, there is also compelling evidence that untreated neonatal pain leads to poor cognition and motor function, impaired brain development, and altered pain responses.

Download the full article here.