In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration published a safety recommendation to limit the exposure to general anesthesia as much as possible below the age of three. Indeed, several preclinical and clinical studies have questioned the possible toxicity of general anesthesia on the developing brain. Since then, recent clinical studies tried to mitigate this alarming issue. What is true, what is false? Contrary to some perceptions, the debate is not over yet. Only stronger translational research will allow scientists to provide concrete answers to this public health issue. In this review, we will provide and discuss the more recent data in this field, including the point of view of preclinical researchers, neuropsychologists and pediatric anesthesiologists. Through translational research, preclinical researchers have more than ever a role to play to better understand and identify long-term effects of general anesthesia for pediatric surgery on brain development in order to minimize it.

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