Anaesthesia and Children: Does It Affect Child Development?


Like adults, anaesthesia and other sedatives are given to children for a diagnosis, treatment or surgery. Sometimes, children require certain treatment or surgery that won’t be possible without the use of anaesthesia. They are used to induce sleep and block all the pain during a procedure. Now the main question arises: Does the use of anaesthesia affects child development?

As sedative medicines and anaesthesia are given to millions of children every year, it is important to know if it affects their development. This blog provides a piece of detailed information on the same.

What is anaesthesia?

Anaesthesia is the use of medicines or injections to prevent and block discomfort and pain during surgery or treatment. There are different types of anaesthesia given on basis of the surgery that has to be done. These anaesthesia medicines block the pain by blocking nerve impulses in the brain.

With today’s extremely advanced medical technology, the use of anaesthesia on anyone is completely safe. An anesthesiologist specialized in anaesthetics gives anaesthesias to numb a particular area or to make a person sleep.

Types of Anaesthesias

There are three main types of Anaesthesia as follows:

  1. General anaesthesia: It is given to help a patient sleep and keep him asleep until the entire surgery till a procedure ends. It makes a patient completely unconscious to leave him with no sensations or pain during surgery.
  2. Regional anaesthesia: It is an anaesthetic drug that is injected around the cluster of nerves to numb a large body part. If given to children, they might fall asleep, but adults maybe half asleep during the surgery.
  3. Local anaesthesia: It is given to numb a specific, small part of the body like hand or leg, etc. Local anaesthesia is used before doing minor surgeries to make a patient sedated or asleep.

Side Effects of Anaesthesia

Usage of Anaesthesia has some common side effects that you can see in children. Your child may experience the following side effects of anaesthesia:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Shakiness or chills
  • Scared and alarmed
  • Sad after waking up
  • Itchiness, etc

These side effects are common and go away with time. We can treat some of these side effects like nausea and vomiting can be treated by giving anti-nausea medicines. At last, as time passes, your child feels a lot better, and all these side effects vanish.

Does anaesthesia affect child development?

Occasional use of anaesthesia in children for surgery has no long-term effects. But, some studies have shown that prolonged and repeated use of anaesthesia for children below three, may affect their brain development. It is advised for an anesthesiologist to make the best medical decisions for young children. 

There is a very low risk of such serious long-term complication of anaesthesia. An anesthesiologist is an experienced doctor that chooses the best type of anaesthesia for your child based on various factors like need, age, health factors, etc. He also monitors the child’s health to ensure if everything is right.

There is still no proof that prolonged use of anaesthesia for children below three cause complications in the brain because the studies were based on animals. According to the ongoing studies, one can postpone surgery until the child’s third birthday to avoid any risks. 


Anaesthesia is an important part of medical science which has helped patient to experience zero pain during surgery. It is completely safe for adults as well as young children.

If in any case, your child, who is three years old or below, need surgery that has anaesthesia, postpone it so that there are no risks. There are no proven studies that prove any serious risks of anaesthesia on children.

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