Anesthesia in Infancy Not Linked to Poor Academic Scores

Ninth-grade test scores of youth unaffected by anesthesia during hernia repair in infancy

FRIDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Brief anesthetic exposure during a surgery in infancy does not reduce academic performance in adolescence, according to a study published in the May issue of Anesthesiology.

Tom G. Hansen, M.D., Ph.D., from the Odense University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues compared the academic performance of 2,689 children anesthetized for inguinal hernia repair in infancy with a randomly selected 5 percent population sample (14,575 individuals) of Danish birth cohorts from 1986 to 1990. Average test scores at ninth grade, adjusted for gender, birth weight, paternal and maternal age, and education, were compared for primary analysis. During secondary analysis, the proportions not attaining test scores in the two groups were compared.

The investigators found that, in unadjusted scores, the average score of the hernia group was 0.26 below that of the population sample. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the hernia group and the 5 percent population sample after adjusting for known confounders. The odds ratio (OR) for not attaining test scores associated with inguinal hernia repair was 1.18 (95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-1.35). However, when children with other congenital malformations were excluded from the analysis, the mean test score differences remained nearly unchanged (difference, −0.05), and the proportion of the hernia group not attaining the test scores was attenuated (OR, 1.13; 95 percent CI: 0.98-1.31).

"We found no evidence that a single, relatively brief anesthetic exposure in connection with hernia repair in infancy reduced academic performances at age 15 to 16 years," the authors write.

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