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Anesthesia in Early Childhood May Be Linked to ADHD
Date:2/2/2012

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children who have more than one surgery with general anesthesia by their second birthday might be at higher risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study suggests.

Mayo Clinic researchers looked through medical records of 341 children diagnosed with ADHD before age 19, to find who had undergone a surgical procedure with anesthesia before they were 2.

Nearly 18 percent of children exposed twice or more eventually developed ADHD. Children with only one exposure had an ADHD rate of nearly 11 percent, while never-exposed children had a rate of slightly more than 7 percent.

The researchers also looked at anesthesia given to mothers during childbirth.

"With Cesarean section with a general anesthetic, only a single anesthetic, we didn't find any effect," said study author Dr. Juraj Sprung, a professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic.

The study appears in the Feb. 2 issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

An earlier study conducted by the same team and published in Pediatrics last November found a connection between early multiple anesthesia exposures and a higher rate of learning disabilities in reading, language and math.

Data for both studies came from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, which analyzed education records of children born between 1976 and 1982 in Minnesota.

Nearly one in 10 children is estimated to have ADHD, which hampers attention and focus, and includes restless and impulsive behavior. Studies suggest that both genetic and environmental factors play a part in causing the neurodevelopmental disorder.

For human studies, it's difficult to separate the effects of anesthesia from those of surgery. "Essentially, we did an observational study and we examined whether there is association with exposure to anesthesia, but not only to anesthesia," Sprung
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