not harmful for babies during birth
Washington, July 28 (IANS) Babies exposed to anaesthesia during
caesarean deliveries are not at any higher risk of developing
learning disabilities than children delivered normally.
"We found that the incidence of learning disabilities
was equal between children who were delivered vaginally and
those who were delivered via C-section but with general anaesthesia,"
says Juraj Sprung, Mayo Clinic anaesthesiologist who led the
"It's reassuring that the anaesthetics required for caesarean
delivery do not appear to cause long-term brain problems,"
The study was conducted with data from the Rochester Epidemiology
Project. Researchers analysed the medical records of 5,320
children born between 1976 and 1982 to mothers living in Olmsted
They compared birth records with scholastic achievement and
IQ tests administered to the children later in life as part
of their schooling.
The study builds on a previous project, reported in March,
which found that children exposed to a single dose of anaesthesia
during the first three years of life had no increased risk
for learning disabilities, but those exposed multiple times
had an almost doubled risk of learning disabilities.
Prolonged exposure to anaesthetics has been shown to cause
brain abnormalities in young animals, which was the impetus
behind these two studies.
Not only did the researchers find that the use of anaesthesia
during delivery was not harmful to the baby, they found that
babies delivered by caesarean using an epidural anaesthetic
(which numbs only the lower region of the body and does not
involve the mother going to sleep) had a substantially reduced
risk for learning disabilities later in life.
"The risk was reduced by about 40 percent compared to
children delivered vaginally and those delivered via caesarean
section but with general anaesthesia," says Sprung, according
to a Mayo Clinic release.
Study co-author and Mayo Clinic anaesthesiologist Randall
Flick cautions that because this study is preliminary, changes
to medical practice should not be considered at this point.
"What we've found is an association between two things,"
These findings are reported in the current issue of Anaesthesiology.
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