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Presentation date

Summer 8-2021

College, Institute, or Department


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Gurudutt Pendyala

Research Mentor

Nghi Minh Nguyen


Approximately 1.5 million neonates undergo anesthesia for surgical procedures in the United States every year1. Midazolam is a commonly used anesthetic agent used in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It is used to sedate neonates and facilitates complex procedures such as mechanical ventilation.2 The extensive use of midazolam has raised questions about whether it affects the cognitive development of infants. In 2014, the International Anesthesia Research Society released a statement saying, “Surgeries and procedures requiring anesthetic and sedative drugs that could reasonably be delayed should possibly be postponed because of the potential risk to the developing brain of infants, toddlers, and preschool children”. 3 Although some evidence shows that midazolam exposure could harm an infant’s cognitive development, little is known about what parts of the developing brain are directly affected by midazolam. Additionally, research has yet to uncover whether the effects of midazolam persist into adulthood. In order to examine the consequences of midazolam exposure, a holistic system biology approach should be implemented. Experimental data from four different levels ─ the molecular level, the physical trait level, the behavioral level, and “omics” level would help address these issues. Our objective is to investigate how prolonged exposure to midazolam affects cellular as well as behavioral functions. A rodent model was implemented to study the effects at infanthood, adolescence, and adulthood. Our molecular results revealed that midazolam could potentially cause disturbances in key brain protein levels. Additionally, midazolam could potentially contribute to social deficits as evidenced by behavioral results. Overall, the results all point to midazolam's potential to delay proper neurodevelopment.


Midazolam, Neurodevelopment, NICU