Many within the alternative health community believe anesthetics cause brain damage. Evidence for this claim has included innumerable animal studies demonstrating a wide range of side effects from every class of anesthetics.
Clinical observations of patients and in certain instances a physician directly perceiving the neurological damage within themselves following anesthesia have also supported this theory. Unfortunately, while a definite hypothesis is easy to establish with animals, it is difficult to test in humans.
Until recently strong evidence has been lacking either way that anesthetics harm human beings. Thus, safer alternatives such as acupuncture, non-toxic anesthetics and abstaining from the application of anesthesia remain under examination. Recent work by the Mayo Clinic however contradicts the prevailing mindset. Onset of ADHD, an indicator of neurological damage, was strongly correlated to children who had been repeatedly anesthetized.
Aware of the evidence suggesting a connection, Mayo Clinic researchers devised a method to test for a possible link between the two. Comparing the records of a group of children exposed to 2 or more anesthetics before the age of 3 versus a group with 0 exposure, it was found that the former group had over twice the incidence of ADHD as the latter.