Do cry features reflect pain intensity in preterm neonates? A preliminary study

Biol Neonate. 1999 Aug;76(2):120-4. doi: 10.1159/000014150.


The purpose of this study was to investigate if cries from preterm neonates would reflect changes in pain intensity following interventions. The cries from 25 preterm neonates from an original sample of 122 were audiorecorded while the infant was undergoing heelstick during a randomized crossover design testing the efficacy of: pacifier with sucrose or water, or prone position as compared to standard care. Both pacifier conditions reduced procedural pain according to a validated composite pain measure (the Premature Infant Pain Profile). There were proportionately fewer cries in the two pacifier groups compared to the prone positioning and standard care groups, and cry duration was positively correlated with PIPP scores. However, neither cry duration nor fundamental frequency reflected group differences. Further research is needed to determine if cry is a sensitive and valid indicator of pain in preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Specimen Collection / adverse effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Crying / physiology*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant Care
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Prone Position


  • Dietary Sucrose