Science Times: Food and Drug Administration Issues Warning of Neurodevelopmental Risks With General Anesthesia

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued an update on general anesthesia for children less than 3 yr of age and pregnant patients in their third trimester.1 They cited a body of evidence in animal and human studies suggesting that the use of anesthetic or sedative drugs may affect neural development. Specifically, they advise caution in exposures lasting more than 3 h or with multiple procedures with cumulative exposure. With this announcement, the FDA has issued new labeling requirements for these drugs, including a warning to healthcare providers of the potential deleterious effects. This comes at a time when sedation is used widely in children.2,3

This warning is wide-reaching and not limited by drug class or utilization: inhalational agents (eg, halothane, desflurane) and intravenous sedatives (eg, propofol, ketamine, pentobarbital) are considered. As neurological surgeons caring for these patients, this warning could have a significant impact on our practice.

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