March 16, 2009

Anesthetic effects on kids to be studied

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is starting a project to study the effects of anesthetics and sedatives on children and infants.

The FDA said the SAFEKIDS project -- Safety of Key Inhaled and Intravenous Drugs in Pediatrics -- involves five partner agencies and is designed to address major gaps in scientific information about the neurocognitive development of children who are treated with anesthetics and sedatives.

Research by the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research using juvenile animal models suggested exposure to some anesthetics and sedatives is associated with memory and learning deficits and other neurodegenerative changes in the central nervous system.

The project will include The International Anesthesia Research Society of Cleveland, which will lead the administrative oversight and the overarching framework for the partnership. The other partners are Boston Children's Hospital-Harvard University, the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, Columbia University and the Mayo Clinic.

In addition, the NCTR will conduct non-clinical studies in non-human primates to assess the decline in mental function when young animals are exposed to anesthesia and to develop noninvasive ways of using imaging to measure structural changes in the brain.