Infants given two or more general anaesthetics in their first two years of life are twice as likely to develop learning difficulties later on, a study has found. The link was suspected because many previous studies on animals of equivalent age, from rodents to rhesus monkeys, have shown that anaesthetics can damage young brains. Randall Flick of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and his colleagues monitored a group of more than 5000 children born in Rochester between 1976 and 1982. They selected 350 infants who underwent procedures requiring anaesthesia before the age of 2 and compared their fate with that of 700 healthy controls who did not have anaesthetics.
New Scientist, Andy Coghlan, 10/5/11