In this article, the authors review the animal and human data on the recent studies looking at the neurotoxicity of general anesthesia in the pediatric population. Animal studies in rodents and non-human primates demonstrate neurotoxic effects when exposed to general anesthesia at a young age. However, prospective clinical studies in humans do not show significant differences in intelligence quotient outcomes in children younger than 3 years with isolated and/or short exposures. Current studies are investigating alternatives to minimize the potential side effects, including the addition of protective agents to the anesthetic mix. Understanding the findings regarding the laboratory and clinical studies on the effects of general anesthesia is important in guiding both patient care and parent education. This is particularly relevant in the care of children with ophthalmic conditions such as trauma, congenital cataract, and congenital glaucoma, which may require urgent surgery and early anesthetic exposure.

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