Premature Babies Are More Sensitive to Pain

Premature babies may feel more pain than previously reported by commonly used methods to assess pain measurements in infants, according to a study by University College London researchers published in the journal Public Liberty of Science Medicine.

Public Liberty of Science Medicine.

Clinical pain scoring methods are designed to measure behavioral and physiological responses, such as body movements and changes in blood pressure. The findings of the study, suggests that these scoring methods may need to be revised to focus on the strongest indicators of pain. Repetitive pain in premature babies has been linked to learning and behavioral problems later on in life.

Premature babies may feel more pain than previously reported by commonly used methods to assess pain measurements in infants, according to a study by University College London researchers published in the journal

The study focused on observing 12 premature infants on 33 separate occasions, while they had their heel lanced as part of a medical procedure. The team measured brain activity in the babies while simultaneously using a common scoring method called the premature infant pain profile (PIPP) to measure pain responses. Regional changes in brain tissue oxygenation were also measured.

Results demonstrated that although changes in brain activity in the somatosensory cortex correlated with the pain scores, brain activity associated with pain processing was recorded in some infants even though, PIPP scores reported no behavioral signs that the infants were in pain.