Growing animal and clinical data continue to point to general anaesthetics as being potentially detrimental to the very young brain. While we are trying to understand the mechanisms responsible for this worrisome phenomenon, we must consider the value of protective strategies that would enable use of currently available general anaesthetics while avoiding histopathological changes and long-lasting impairment in behavioural and cognitive development. Wali and colleagues1┬áreport that the gestational hormone progesterone is a promising ‘safening’ agent that ameliorates systemic inflammation caused by sevoflurane, a commonly used inhaled anaesthetic, while preventing development of cognitive impairment and an anxious phenotype.

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Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic.
British Journal of Anaesthesia February 2022

Editorial in response to this original research paper.