Background: Over the past decade, following the discovery that developing brain of immature animals was affected by anesthetic agents, the safety of general anesthesia (GA) in early life has been questioned.

Objectives: We investigated the association between anesthesia exposure in children and ADHD development.

Methods: This case-control study was conducted at pediatric psychology clinic of our institution and a pediatric neurology private clinic during 2019. Firstly the responsible resident of anesthesiology separated new ADHD cases. Then a questionnaire was filled out through an almost 10 minute’s telephone interview. Finally, frequency distribution of GA was compared between ADHD cases and controls.

Results: Finally, the data from 210 children were analyzed. Among 105 ADHD cases, 19% had a history of a procedure requiring GA while it was 3.8% in control group. Comparing the two groups a significant difference was observed regarding the age of receiving GA (P = 0.004), gender (P < 0.001), the history of receiving GA (P = 0.001) and the number of anesthesia exposures (P = 0.001). According to logistic regression analysis, male gender (P = 0.001) OR 3.11 (95CI = 1.63 – 5.93) and age (P = 0.003) OR 0.92 (95CI = 0.87 – 0.97) were significant predictors of early exposure to GA and ADHD development.

Conclusions: It was revealed that early exposure to GA might be a risk factor for later developing ADHD. Boys might be more sensitive to the long term adverse effects of anesthetic agents than girls. Further prospective well-planned studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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Sedighnejad et al.
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics June 2020