Public Release: 

Colorado University and Children's Hospital researcher contributes to study on safety of anesthesia

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

AURORA, Colo. (Oct. 26, 2015) - An international team of researchers that includes a pediatric anesthesiologist from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado is reporting that limited use of general anesthesia with an infant does not cause developmental problems for the child.

The study, published online Sunday in the British medical journal The Lancet, is the largest of its kind and the first randomized study to compare whether general anesthesia in infancy has any effect on neurodevelopmental outcome.

David Polaner, MD, professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics and director of transplant anesthesia at Children's Hospital Colorado, is one of the authors of the paper. There were more than 700 infants involved in the study between 2007 and 2013 at 28 hospitals around the world.

"While these results apply to use of anesthetics for a short duration of less than an hour in infants, this research provides strong evidence and reassurance to parents and physicians that under the conditions we studied, anesthesia is unlikely to be the cause of developmental problems," Polaner said. "We did not find any difference between children who received general anesthesia and spinal anesthesia, suggesting that the previous human studies may have been affected by confounding factors."

The results presented in the Lancet article are an "intermediate analysis," reviewing the outcomes of children at 2 years of age. The final results will be determined when the children are five years old. The study, while not yet definitive, provides evidence that limited exposure general anesthesia does not increase the risk of developmental issues.

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Children's Hospital Colorado is one of the largest U.S. hospitals to participate in the study, which included sites in Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Health, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. To learn more about the medical school's care, education, research and community engagement, visit its web site.

About Children's Hospital Colorado

Children's Hospital Colorado (Children's Colorado) has defined and delivered pediatric health care excellence for more than 100 years. Founded in 1908, Children's Colorado is a leading pediatric network entirely devoted to the health and well-being of children. Continually acknowledged as one of the nation's outstanding pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and ranked 5th on its Best Children's Hospitals 2015-16 Honor Roll, Children's Colorado is known for both its nationally and internationally recognized medical, research, education and advocacy programs, as well as comprehensive everyday care for kids throughout Colorado and surrounding states. Children's Colorado is the winner of the 2015 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize, and is a 2015 Most Wired hospital according to Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. Children's Colorado also is recognized for excellence in nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Centers and has been designated a Magnet® hospital since 2005. The hospital's family-centered, collaborative approach combines the nation's top pediatric doctors, nurses and researchers to pioneer new approaches to pediatric medicine. With urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Metro Denver and Southern Colorado, including its main campus on the Anschutz Medical Campus, Children's Colorado provides a full spectrum of pediatric specialties. For more information, visit http://www.childrenscolorado.org and connect with Children's Colorado on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Contact: Mark Couch, 303-724-5377, mark.couch@ucdenver.edu

Contact: Children's Hospital Colorado Pager: 303-890-8314

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