When nitrous oxide is no laughing matter: nitrous oxide and pediatric anesthesia

Paediatr Anaesth. 2007 Sep;17(9):824-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2007.02264.x.


Although often felt to be relatively innocuous, nitrous oxide can have significant metabolic effects in settings of abnormal vitamin B12 and B12-related metabolism in children. These conditions can be genetic or environmental. Symptoms may not appear until days to weeks after exposure to nitrous oxide. Although overt genetic diseases are relatively uncommon, the implications of nitrous oxide interactions with much more frequent but less symptomatically obvious single nucleotide polymorphisms are potentially more concerning. In addition, nitrous oxide can have direct and differing neurotoxic effects on both immature and aged brain, the clinical impact of which remains undetermined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / adverse effects*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / complications
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics
  • Nitrous Oxide / adverse effects*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism
  • Vitamin B 12 / physiology


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Vitamin B 12