A new study conducted at Harvard Boston Children’s Hospital reveals alarming results in MR images taken of babies exposed to prolonged anesthesia exposure. The small study, presented at the 2017 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in Washington D.C., focused on MRIs of infants who had undergone surgery for gastrointestinal issues present from birth.
“Our preliminary findings suggest that children who have prolonged sedation during surgery have more signs of brain atrophy,” said Dusica Bajic, MD, PhD, who both works at Harvard Boston Children’s Hospital and is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers studied brain MRIs of nine infants who had been subjected to prolonged anesthesia during surgery. The scans of all nine infants showed increased fluid in the brain, increased spaces between lobes, and thinning of white matter connecting the two brain hemispheres.
Bajic and colleagues intend to continue research with a larger study group. For now, this preliminary research may serve as a warning for parents to refrain from allowing anesthesia on their infants unless absolutely necessary.