Anesthesia May Be Harmful to Children’s Memory

September 8, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. long-term /ˈlɔŋˌtɜrm, ˈlɒŋ-/ (adj.) – referring to a lengthy time period
Example: She chose not to take the medicine because of rumors of its long-term side effects.

2. recollect /ˌri kəˈlɛkt/ (v.) – to bring back something that was already known
Example: After the accident, he could not recollect some of his memories.

3. a fine line /ə faɪn laɪn/ (idiom) – a very small difference between two things or ideas
Example: There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

4. eye-opener /ˈaɪˌoʊ pə nər/ (n.) – refers to something that triggers an enlightening realization or understanding
Example: The new research is a real eye-opener for medical practitioners.

5. deter /dɪˈtɜr/ (v.) – to stop or prevent someone from doing something, commonly by discouraging them with fear and doubt of the consequences
Example: The pain did not deter the patient to continue his therapy.


Read the text below.
A study claims that children who had been put under anesthesia [an-uh s-THEE-zhuh] during infancy may suffer from long-term memory impairment.

Researchers from the University of California conducted an experiment to determine the memory capacity of children who had been anesthetized [uh-NES-thi-tahyzd] before age one. Their ability to recollect was compared to another group consisting of children who have never been anesthetized. In a ten-month period, both groups were asked to recollect the details of a set of drawings.  Results showed that children injected with anesthesia had lower scores in the overall recollection tests.

The researchers compared the results to previous findings of studies with rats. In the previous study, 33 rats were anesthetized in their first week of life. It was found that these rats had developed problems in recollecting odors.

Since the rats suffered no injuries, the researchers believed that the weakened memory was mainly caused by the anesthesia. However, the same cannot be said for the recent study as it did not consider why the children had been anesthetized. Nevertheless, the researchers said that there is a fine line between the consequences of anesthesia on rats and on humans.

The study is an eye-opener to the learning skills of anesthetized children, researchers said. A weak ability to recollect may likely cause difficulties in children’s reading comprehension, classroom learning, and autobiographical memory.

The researchers further stressed that the study does not deter the use of anesthesia. Instead, it hopes to inspire more thorough investigations on the matter, particularly the long-term effects of anesthesia and its use on children.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What possible implication will this study have on surgery procedures?
·         What can parents do to help their anesthetized children perform well academically?

Discussion B

·         How important is memory? Kindly explain.
·         How do you think can memory be improved?

September 8, 2014