General anesthesia may increase the risk of behavioral and developmental problems in young children, according to a study presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Orlando.
Studies in animals have suggested that general anesthesia may be toxic to a developing brain.
To assess the risk in children, Dr. Lena S. Sun of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons analyzed data from 625 children younger than 3 who were exposed to general anesthesia as part of an uncomplicated hernia repair.
When comparing these children with a random sample of 5,000 children with no history of anesthesia exposure, Sun found that the children who'd had anesthesia were twice as likely to be diagnosed later with a behavioral or developmental disorder.
The children in the study were taken from a Medicaid population group and thus may not have the same health and socioeconomic advantages of children in the control group.
Nevertheless, says Sun: "The excess risk of developmental and behavioral disorders in the children exposed to anesthesia cannot be completely explained by demographic factors or confounding health factors including premature birth or low birth weight."
More research is needed to understand whether general anesthesia harms young children.
-- Shari Roan
From Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and some news from the world of health
For more, go to latimes.com/boostershots
COUNTDOWN TO CRAWFORD
How unpopular is the bailout?
Nearly a month after Congress approved President Bush's $700-billion bailout of U.S. banks, the stock market is still in free fall, unemployment keeps rising and the global capitalistic system is on the brink.
In fact the poison has long since spread from America to the rest of the world.
And what about Americans who inundated Congress with calls of protest?
The ones who vented their rage on radio talk shows and propelled a revolt by House Republicans that nearly derailed the proposal? Apparently, they like the plan even less now than they did before.
According to a new poll from CNN, 46% of Americans supported the bailout back on Oct. 3. By Oct. 17, that number had dropped to 40%.
Likewise, the number who opposed the idea has increased during the same period, to 56% from 53%.
Even more striking was the number -- 58% -- who think it's a bad idea for the U.S. government to take an equity share in big companies that are in danger of going out of business.
Apparently, Americans think that the rules of the road should apply to Lehman Brothers as well as Joe the Plumber.
As for Hank Paulson, the Treasury secretary who has been putting his department on lockdown to come up with a plan to rescue Wall Street, his poll numbers are not much better than the president's, clocking in with a 28% approval rating.
Of course, both President Bush and his Treasury secretary are still more popular than Congress, which dipped below 20% in a recent Gallup Poll.
-- Johanna Neuman
From Countdown to Crawford: The last days of the Bush administration
For more, go to latimes.com/bush
A controversy over 'Dancing'
I doubt the oddsmakers even had a scenario in which 82-year-old Cloris Leachman stayed in contention through half of the season on "Dancing With the Stars," but that's now the case. And you know who's not happy about it? That whippersnapper Florence Henderson, 74. According to Life & Style Weekly, Henderson said, "I hope the audience doesn't think all older people act like her." She continues: "I love Cloris, but sometimes she acts like she's not all there, or she's wandering around the ballroom acting silly." And Henderson concurs with many commenters when she says that Leachman "is given a lot of leeway because of her age."
TV Guide is reporting that pro Louis van Amstel (who appeared with Priscilla Presley last season and is not paired with any of the current season's stars) wants dancers Cheryl Burke and Lacey Schwimmer to take responsibility for their apparent weight gain: "If you want to gain weight, it's your prerogative. We all put on weight because there was no summer tour. But you have to deal with the consequences." And he thinks those consequences could be the demoralization of America: "If [the viewers] watch someone who's dancing her butt off and she's still heavy, they can be discouraged. You have to take responsibility."
-- Sarah Rogers
From Show Tracker: What you're watching
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