• Anesthetics Can Harm Developing Children: What You Need to Know
  • April 26, 2017
  • Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
  • According to the Washington Post, a recent FDA report warns parents of the dangers of repeated anesthesia use for children younger than 3 years old. Babies who undergo either repeated surgeries requiring anesthesia or surgeries requiring anesthesia for more than three hours may suffer adverse effects to their developing brains. There is also risk that pregnant women who receive general anesthesia during their third trimester may damage their babies’ developing brains. Thus, birth defects can be caused by these anesthetic procedures. As a result of these findings, the FDA issued a warning about the risks of these practices and ordered manufacturers of anesthesia to add warnings to their products’ labels.

    Pharmaceuticals can be valuable medical tools, even life-saving, but they can also be dangerous especially to children. There is research showing an association between greater exposure to anesthetics before the age of 3 years and problems with learning and behavior. This includes an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Further, animal studies have shown that lengthy or multiple experiences with anesthesia can lead to cell death and issues with the formation of connections among brain cells. There have been some studies conducted on children but there are obvious limitations to what doctors and researchers can do with live children.

    Understand the Risks

    Sometimes these procedures are medically necessary but it is important to know and understand the risks of that type of procedure before making the decision to undergo that procedure. For example, open heart procedures can last upwards of eight hours but sometimes these procedures are necessary to ensure the life of a child. As noted before, this generally applies to anesthesia lasting more than three hours as well as repeated surgeries involving anesthesia.

    More than 1 million children under the age of 4 years old require anesthesia for surgery in the United States per year. Conditions requiring anesthesia for surgery include congenital heart defects and pyloric stenosis. Also, no specific medications have shown to be safer to any other. Instead, the danger seems to stem from the amount up time or amount of surgeries.

    Birth defects can be caused by anesthesia, as previously mentioned, but this is not the only source of defects. Birth defects can be caused by pesticides, coal ash, and solvents as well. Birth defects can cause great pain to both the babies who are affected and the parents who raise the affected children. In cases where the defect is a result of negligence of another party, birth defect lawsuits can help to make the affected parties whole again. Sometimes these defects are preventable but oftentimes they are caused by factors completely out of the parents’ control. In these situations, it may be useful to hire a birth defect lawyer to assert your rights under the law.