[Assessing and treating pain in the newborn]

J Pediatr (Rio J). May-Jun 1999;75(3):149-60. doi: 10.2223/jped.290.
[Article in Portuguese]


OBJECTIVES: To update information about available neonatal pain assessment and pain relief methods.METHOD: Medical literature review of the past 10 years, including textbooks, general reviews, systematic reviews, prospective, randomized controlled studies, retrospective works and case studies. Literature was reviewed based on the author clinical and scientific experience regarding pain evaluation and treatment.RESULTS: Lack of verbal expression of pain is one of the major impediments to adequate pain relief in the neonatal period. Nowadays, several valid pain assessment tools are available, including the analysis of the neonate facial features and multidimensional tools, as NIPS, CRIES, and PIPP. Non-pharmacological pain relief can be achieved by non-nutritive suction and suction of dextrose water. Neonatal analgesia, in general, includes de the use of paracetamol, opioids and local anesthetics. Opioids remain the main resource for acute pain treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit. Sedatives are important agents to decrease patient activity and restlessness, but they do not relieve pain.CONCLUSION: Based on medical, ethical, and humanitarian grounds, neonatal pain should be considered and treated.