Child's Post-Anesthesia Crying Unaffected by Parent Presence

However, children whose parents were not present were more likely to have negative behaviors later
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Young children coming out of anesthesia postoperatively in a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) may cry whether or not their parents are present, though parental presence is associated with decreased negative behavior change two weeks later, according to a study in the April issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia.

David R. Lardner, of the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues randomized 300 children ages 2 to 8 years 11 months scheduled for elective outpatient surgery, with an anticipated stay in the PACU of more than 10 minutes, to either have, or not have, a parent present when they awoke from anesthesia. They scored crying behaviors in the PACU on a five-point scale and determined behavior changes two weeks after discharge with a follow-up questionnaire.

The researchers found no differences in crying behavior in the PACU related to parental presence. However, negative behavior two weeks later was more frequent among children whose parent was absent from the PACU (45.8 percent) than among those whose parent was present (29.3 percent). The predictors of a larger proportion of time spent crying in the PACU included age younger than 5 years and higher pain score at 15 minutes after arrival for surgery. The absence of the parent in the PACU and being younger than 5 were predictors of negative behavior two weeks later.

"Future studies of behavior change postoperatively should consider parental presence in the PACU a factor and determine whether the effect persists with other interventions," the authors write.

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