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Learning Disabilities Linked to Early Surgeries

Posted Apr 01 2009 9:57pm 1 Comment

"Young children undergoing repeated anesthesia may be at increased risk for learning disabilities, researchers here said.


In a retrospective cohort study, children with two exposures to anesthesia before age 4 were 59% more likely than unexposed children to be diagnosed with learning disabilities according to Jurajsurgery Sprung, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues reporting online in Anesthesiology.

Youngsters with three or more exposures had a 2.6-fold increased risk of learning disabilities, the researchers found."

I find this study to be especially interesting. My twelve year old son was diagnosed with learning disabilities at the age of six. Prior to that, he had undergone two surgeries. The first surgery was to place tubes in his ears and remove his tonsils. The second was a insert tubes for the second time and to remove his adenoids.

To think that the anesthesia from those surgeries could have possibly contributed to his learning disabilities is mind blowing. The doctors who were trying to help him could have possibly been responsible for his learning difficulties now.

I am anxious for more research to be done on this topic. Had your LD child undergone surgery prior to being diagnosed? Do you think there is a link between the two?

Full story available via: MedPage Today

Comments (1)
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This study has me worrying. My 3 year old just had surgery to put ear tubes in. It appears that she may need surgery to take out her tonsils and adenoids. She has constant sinus infections and has been on many courses of antibiotics. This was the reason why I brought her to the ENT who suggested tubes. However, she has yet another sinus infection (2 weeks post op), and other symptoms have been bothering me as well--including snoring (since she was about 1 1/2, sweating buckets at night, and frequent night waking. I do know that it's well documented that children who suffer from sleep apnea, which I suspect this might be, also have a high rate of behavior problems, stunted growth, and possible learning problems. I assume this is from lack of deep sleep during critical development periods. SO, I wonder if these surgeries that are mentioned in the study are serious surgeries? For example, how long are these children under anesthesia? It would be nice if the authors examined this variable. 

Did your child have the surgeries close to each other? Or were they years apart? Also was the anesthesia administered via a face mask or via an IV?

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