The 211,978 children included in the study were born in New South Wales at 37-plus weeks' gestation without major congenital anomalies or neurodevelopmental disability. Of these, researchers had data on their school entry developmental assessment in 2009, 2012, or their Grade-3 school test results in 2008-2014.
The researchers compared the developmental and school results of children exposed to general anaesthesia during hospital procedures (37,880) up to 48 months of age to same-aged children with no exposure to general anaesthesia or hospitalisation (197,301).
Children - Anaesthesia - Anaesthesia
Compared to children unexposed to general anaesthesia, those exposed to general anaesthesia had a:
23 per cent increased risk of lower reading scores on school tests.
Researchers - Analyses - Children - Hospitalisation - Procedure
When the researchers restricted their analyses to children who'd had only one hospitalisation involving a procedure requiring general anaesthesia, they found no increased risk for poor development or reduced reading scores, however the risk of poor numeracy scores remained.
"There are many reasons why a child requires surgery or investigation, and, in some cases, this may be lifesaving or unavoidable," said the study's senior author, Professor Natasha Nassar of the University of Sydney.
Children - Findings - Literacy - Numeracy - Skills
"For these children, our findings suggest that it is important to follow-up and monitor their literacy and numeracy skills when they reach school, and ensure early intervention, if required."
Co-author Dr Justin Skowno, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sydney and senior staff specialist in Paediatric Anaesthesia at...
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