Dr. Anu Patel conducted the study after noticing a friend's 7-year-old son was so absorbed with his Game Boy at a restaurant that he ignored the adults and the food at his table.
“We find that the children are just so happy with the Game Boy that they actually do forget where they are,” said Patel, an anesthesiologist at University Hospital in Newark who plans to present her findings Saturday at a medical conference.
Patel said the findings could be helpful because many parents do not want tranquilizers given to their children.
Youngsters who are traumatized before surgery run the risk of long-term psychological problems, including nightmares, bed wetting and fear of being alone.
In addition, strapping a restless, frightened child to an operating table can cause a temporary blood pressure spike, make the heart race and trigger stress hormones that can delay healing, said Patel, also an assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
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