Any operation involves risks, but the hazards for the youngest surgical patients may last longer than doctors thought. After analyzing the health records of 5,357 children, researchers found that those who had undergone two or more surgeries by the time they were 2 years old were twice as likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by age 19 as children who had had only one surgical procedure.
The researchers suggest that one reason for the higher rates of ADHD may be anesthesia. Shutting down a child's brain, even temporarily and under controlled conditions, could interfere enough with the normal development of cognitive networks to contribute to mental and behavioral problems later. In previous work, the same scientists documented a doubling of learning disorders in children who had had multiple surgeries by the time they were 2.
Still, that doesn't necessarily mean that anesthesia causes ADHD. Although the scientists adjusted for other contributing factors like whether the babies were born prematurely or had other health conditions, they said it's still possible that the medical conditions requiring some children to have multiple surgeries in the first place may be driving their risk of ADHD.
Physician, Weigh Thyself
What does your doctor have to do with your weight? More than you might think. In a study of M.D.s and their care of heavy patients, doctors who were overweight or obese were less likely than their slimmer peers to discuss weight loss with their overweight or obese patients--especially if their patients weren't as heavy as they were.