Early childhood surgery linked to learning disabilities

Children who undergo multiple surgeries requiring anaesthesia before the age of two have an increased risk of developing learning disabilities.

The study, which examined existing data, found children exposed to multiple surgeries (and anaesthesia) were two- to three-times as likely to develop speech and language problems than children who did not have surgery before the age of two.

The study found that 36.6% of children who had multiple surgeries before two years of age developed a learning disability, while 23.6% of children who had one surgery developed a learning disability. In the case of children who hadn’t had surgery before the age of two, 21.2% developed a learning disability.

“Our advice to parents considering surgery for a child under the age of two is to speak with your child’s physician,” says Randall Flick, M.D., Mayo Clinic paediatric anaesthesiologist and lead author of the study.

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