Early pain in preterm infants. A model of long-term effects

Clin Perinatol. 2002 Sep;29(3):373-94, vii-viii. doi: 10.1016/s0095-5108(02)00012-x.


There are multiple lines of evidence suggesting that in vulnerable prematurely born infants, repeated and prolonged pain exposure may affect the subsequent development of pain systems, as well as potentially contribute to alterations in long-term development and behavior. Multiple factors cumulatively contribute to altered developmental trajectories in such infants. These include characteristics of the developing organism (low tactile threshold, sensitization, rapid brain development), characteristics intrinsic to the infant (gestation, illness severity), characteristics of the experience in the neonatal intensive care unit (pain exposure and cumulative stress), and characteristics of the caregivers within their family and social context. This article provides a model for examining long-term effects of pain in the newborn period embedded in a developmental context framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold