Doctors Finally Waking Up -
Newborns DO Feel Pain
Doctors - Pain Management Needed for Newborns
By John Martin

During their stays in hospitals, premature infants respond to pain in the same way that adults do, and more should be done to manage it, say researchers in St. Louis.
Doctors at Washington University School of Medicine published their findings in this month's issue of the journal Pediatrics. Premature infants, they say, can react to pain and tell the difference between more and less painful procedures. They also react more to pain as they grow older.
Because of that, the researchers are urging better pain management programs for newborns to reduce acute pain, as well as the possible long-term impact that babies may acquire. "These findings underscore just how sophisticated newborns are," said Fran Lang Porter, PhD, an assistant professor of Pediatrics, who was among those who participated.
"The study shows that not managing their pain, as if their early experiences don't matter, is a real mistake." 135 premature newborns ranging in age from less than 28 weeks through full-term were recruited for the study.
The findings were no surprise to Porter and her colleagues. Each newborn's heart rate jumped dramatically in response to the preparation, as well as the procedure itself, but fell back to normal rate during the recovery period.
The newborns also slept less during preparation and the procedures, and slept more before and afterwards. "I think hospitals should have guidelines and standards in each of their nurseries and different units, and they should be monitored for adherence," Dr. Porter tells AHN.COM.
"I think that there should be frank discussions with parents and families about what pain management will be provided for their infants and children."