Effects of Anesthesia on the Fetal Brain

Published on 
January 28, 2016

Exposure to anesthesia during labor and delivery results in morphological changes in the developing fetal brain. Photo credit: Bradley Peterson, MD, Institute of the Developing Mind, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Recently recommended in F1000Prime, which identifies significant studies in biology and medicine based on recommendations from leadings scientists around the world, a study by researchers led by Bradley Peterson, MD of CHLA demonstrated significant effects of anesthesia used during labor and delivery on the developing fetal brain. Using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Peterson and his team found infants exposed to anesthesia had areas in the frontal and occipital lobes of the brain that were larger in size compared to those who had not been exposed. The size of these areas of the brain increased with longer durations of anesthetic exposure. The effects of these differences in morphology based on anesthesia exposure are yet to be determined.