1) Anesthesia - new study shows a new wrinkle in risk.

A growing body of evidence in rodents, primates and humans is now showing that general anesthesia can affect the developing brain. In the New England Journal of Medicine an editorial from the FDA discusses the negative effects of general anesthetics in the vulnerable, less than 3 year old, child's brain. Prolonged exposure at this critical window of time results in widespread neuronal cell death and long term cognitive deficits. In other words, the anesthesia causes changes to the brain that result in decreased function.

In one specific study, children under 3 years of age who underwent surgery with general anesthesia had a two fold increase in behavioral and developmental disorders. The number of anesthetics(drugs) used and the length of exposure correlated with increased disability.

NEJM 2011;364:1387

Journal of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology 2009; 21:286

2) Caffeine is a known stimulant and an adult need for many. I personally like a large green tea in the morning. In the Journal of pediatrics this year a group studied the effects of children's caffeine consumption on sleep patterns.

The mg dosage of caffeine ingested directly correlated with reduced hours of sleep. Reduced hours of sleep, as any parent knows, leads to a cranky child and decreased overall function. Look at your child's intake of caffeine and try to keep it less than 50 mg per day.

Here are some examples of caffeine dosages in kid's beverages:

Energy drinks - 80-160 mg/can

Soda - 50 mg on average/can

Iced tea - 50 - 70 mg/ 12 ounces

Coffee - if they get your iced mocha - 115 mg

How to make caffeine free tea? Brew your tea for 1 minute then pour it off. Rebrew the same tea leaves and the caffeine is gone!

Lightly sweeten your tea with honey. 1 teaspoon of honey per 16 ounces = 2 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass serving. Compare that to southern sweet tea like McDonalds which has 18 grams of sugar per 8 ounces.

Journal of Pediatrics 2011; 158:508

My take home point today: Delay all unnecessary surgery in young children. Watch caffeine intake and sleep well.

Live well,

Dr. Magryta