Living Out the Past: Infant Surgery Prior to 1987
Publication Date:May 2011
This paper will focus on the infants and young children who underwent surgical procedures without anesthesia prior to 1987, the standard of practice at the time, and the lifelong consequences that remain unrecognized and untreated in this population. Relevant historical context unique to this phenomenon in the human story is critical to understanding the protocol by which the medical profession determined care for the infant. The review of the neuroscience of trauma and memory focuses on primary sensory and affective capacity. Physiologically, the neonate and preverbal child’s inability to integrate overwhelming pain and terror proved causative for psychopathology. Research will demonstrate how cognitive, affective, and behavioral developmental patterns continue during the lifespan. Through awareness of the profound violation exacted by medical trauma, a link for the adult between their history and current symptomatolgy may begin to be bridged. Looking at the origins of this legacy may further serve to stimulate current pediatric healthcare consideration of the implications of medical trauma occurring at the most vulnerable and trusting stage of early development.
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