Concerns about anaesthesia-related neurological injury in young children have been increasing among parents, health-care providers, and regulatory organisations. These concerns were first prompted by animal studies that showed accelerated apoptosis and neuronal death after exposure to general anaesthetic drugs. Most commonly used general anaesthetic drugs have since been found to cause pervasive adverse neurological effects in vitro and in immature animals, including non-human primates. This issue gained widespread prominence in 2017, when the US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication stating that the use of general anaesthetic drugs “for lengthy periods of time or over multiple surgeries or procedures may negatively affect brain development in children younger than 3 years”. Subsequently, warnings were added to the labels for these medicines.
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