Both general anesthesia and regional anesthesia can be used in children safely and effectively with the right protocols in place. The amount of anesthesia should be determined on a case-by-case basis with the child's safety and comfort as a priority. Studies have shown that brief exposure to general anesthesia in young patients under the age of three does not cause long-term effects, but there are concerns about "neurotoxicity" in exposing them to surgery that is longer than three hours or when undergoing multiple procedures.
Parents should be aware of risks and ask questions about the anesthesia used during their child's surgery, but more often than not, the surgery is neccesary and time-sensitive.
Learn more about pediatric anesthesia and pain management at HSS.