Primary Subject Area
Health Sciences, Nursing
infant, pain, neonatal, management
Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing
Emphasis on infant pain management has recently become prominent in the medical field. Though it was once thought that infants do not feel pain or remember pain, this thinking has changed due to recent research on the subject. This research has found that infants’ underdeveloped nervous systems actually leads to increased pain rather than decreased pain as previously thought. Research has also found that there are long-term developmental risks associated with prolonged or unmanaged pain in infancy. However, this has not been applied to clinical practice. Studies show that infants are still being under-medicated, if medicated at all, for painful or invasive procedures. Infants in the neonatal intensive care unit are at a high-risk for complications related to unmanaged pain because of the frequency and abundance of invasive procedures performed on this unit. Reasons for this include lack of physician education on this subject, risk for adverse effects with opioid administration, and lack of adequate pain assessment tools for infants. There are some interventions that can be implemented to improve pain management in infants, which include non-pharmacological methods and educating medical staff on this subject.