Results: In total, 997 children completed testing (411, 380, and 206 unexposed, singly exposed, and multiply exposed, respectively). The primary outcome of intelligence quotient did not differ significantly according to exposure status; multiply exposed and singly exposed children scoring 1.3 points (95% CI, −3.8 to 1.2; P = 0.32) and 0.5 points (95% CI, −2.8 to 1.9; P = 0.70) lower than unexposed children, respectively. For secondary outcomes, processing speed and fine motor abilities were decreased in multiply but not singly exposed children; other domains did not differ. The parents of multiply exposed children reported increased problems related to executive function, behavior, and reading.
Conclusions: Anesthesia exposure before age 3 yr was not associated with deficits in the primary outcome of general intelligence. Although secondary outcomes must be interpreted cautiously, they suggest the hypothesis that multiple, but not single, exposures are associated with a pattern of changes in specific neuropsychological domains that is associated with behavioral and learning difficulties.