Background: Exposure to general anaesthesia in children might increase the risk of long-term behavioural problems. It is unclear if any behavioural changes in the short term after anaesthesia could be associated with long-term problems. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the short-term trajectory of parent-reported behaviour measured by the Behaviour Assessment System for Children, third edition (BASC-3) amongst children aged 2.5–6 yr who underwent general anaesthesia for elective surgery. Methods: Children who were undergoing general anaesthesia for surgery were recruited for assessment of behaviour on two occasions: preoperatively (from 1 week to 1 day before anaesthesia), and 3 months postoperatively. To assess longitudinal changes in the parent-reported behaviour measured by BASC-3, linear mixed models were built with visit number included as a categorical variable and subject-specific random intercepts. Results: Sixty-eight children (37 girls [54%]) were enrolled in the study and completed both assessments. At 3 months after anaesthesia, statistically significant improvements (decrease in T scores) in internalising problems (−2.7 [95% confidence interval −4.2 to −1.1]), anxiety (−2.5 [−4.4 to −0.5]), and somatisation (−3.0 [−5.2 to −0.9]) were found. There were no significant differences in scores between visits for other composites or scales. The pattern of results did not depend upon prior anaesthesia exposure. Conclusions: Anaesthesia for elective surgery in young children was associated with a small decrease in internalising problems but no changes in other areas of behavioural problems when assessed at 3 months postoperatively, including in children with prior exposure to anaesthesia.
- elective surgery
- internalising problems
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine