Scientists have found out how anesthesia during pregnancy affects the unborn child

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at Leuven University Hospital have found that emergency anesthesia for women during pregnancy is not associated with developmental problems in children aged 2 to 18 years.

Elective surgeries during pregnancy are usually avoided, but up to 1% of pregnant women may need them in case of unforeseen health situations, such as appendicitis.

The study involved more than 500 children aged 2 to 18 years.

The scientists found no statistically significant differences in neurodevelopment between groups of children who were or were not exposed to anesthesia in utero.

The effects of anesthesia were comparable in magnitude to the influence of factors such as the level of education of the parents and the age of the mother at birth.

The researchers looked at differences in self-control, psychosocial and learning difficulties, and psychiatric diagnoses between the two groups.

Previous analyzes of animal studies have shown that general anesthesia during pregnancy can damage the fetal brain and impair learning and memory.

In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that repeated or prolonged use of general anesthesia during the third trimester of pregnancy may cause fetal abnormalities.

The authors stressed that while the results of the study do not change the recommendation that only emergency and necessary surgery should be performed during pregnancy, they should still reassure women who do require surgery during pregnancy.

Postponing the operation in this case can lead to much more serious consequences for the woman and the child.

For example, in the case of appendicitis, delayed treatment can lead to miscarriage or sepsis in the mother.

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