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Home Industry News Premature babies ‘more sensitive to pain than other newborns’

Premature babies ‘more sensitive to pain than other newborns’

11th May 2010

Premature babies feel more pain than healthy newborns, partly because of the treatment they receive at birth, a study has found.

Research has shown that babies who spend at least their first 40 days in hospital feel pain more acutely and that more treatment should be administered to prevent them becoming pain-sensitive.

Writing in the journal NeuroImage, researchers said this latest study supports previous evidence of increased pain sensitivity in older children who are born prematurely.

Research leader Dr Rebeccah Slater, from University College London, said: “Our study shows that being born prematurely and undergoing intensive care affects pain processing in the infant brain.

“These observations may underlie the differences in pain sensitivity reported in older ex-preterm children.”

The team carried out the study by measuring the brain activity of babies with an electroencephalogram (EEG) while they underwent routine heel lancing to draw blood samples.

Stronger brain activity was seen for premature infants who had been in hospital for at least 40 days, compared to healthy babies of the same age.

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