The risk of children without serious heart or lung complications dying from anaesthesia is less than one in 10,000, a study at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital has found.
The study examined more than 100,000 anaesthetics given to 56,000 children between July 2003 and August 2008.
There were 10 anaesthesia-related deaths, but in all cases pre-existing medical conditions were considered a significant factor.
Five deaths involved children with abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.
Study leader Dr Ben van der Griend, who is now based at Christchurch Hospital, said there had been little accurate data on anaesthesia-related deaths until now.
"Studies of this kind are important because they help doctors to identify high-risk patients, in this case children with pulmonary hypertension or heart disease, and they can then allocate appropriate resources and training to these cases," Dr van der Griend said.
"They also help parents make informed choices when it comes to anaesthesia for children with complex medical conditions."
He said the research reinforced the safety of anaesthesia in healthy children."Over the five years of the study, with more than 100,000 anaesthetics administered, there were no cases of anaesthesia-related deaths in children who were healthy," Dr van der Griend said.
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