Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 288–293

Functional Implications of an Early Exposure to General Anesthesia: Are We Changing the Behavior of Our Children?


DOI: 10.1007/s12035-013-8488-5

Cite this article as:
Jevtovic-Todorovic, V. Mol Neurobiol (2013) 48: 288. doi:10.1007/s12035-013-8488-5


There is a rapidly growing body of animal and clinical evidence suggesting that the exposure to anesthetics and sedatives during the critical stages of brain development results in long-lasting (perhaps permanent) impairment in cognitive development in a variety of mammalian species. With improved understanding of the mechanisms responsible for behavioral outcomes of anesthesia-induced developmental neurotoxicity, there is hope for development of protective strategies that will enable safe use of anesthesia in the youngest members of our society. Here, I review presently available evidence regarding anesthesia-induced neurocognitive and social behavioral impairments and possible strategies for preventing them. I also review limited and somewhat controversial evidence that examines the effects of nociception and surgical stimulation on anesthesia-­induced developmental neurotoxicity.


Learning and memorySocial behaviorAnestheticsNeurotoxicityNeurodevelopmentImmature brain

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA