Neonatal facial coding system scores and spectral characteristics of infant crying during newborn circumcision

Clin J Pain. 2007 Jun;23(5):417-24. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31805476f2.


Objective: To determine the relations between Neonatal Facial Coding System (NFCS) scores and measures of infant crying during newborn circumcision.

Methods: Video and audio recordings were made of infant facial activity and cry sounds, respectively, during the lysis phase of circumcisions of 44 healthy term males (<3 d of age). All infants received topical analgesia before circumcision. NFCS scores were determined by blinded assistant from video recordings of facial activity. Measures of infant crying were determined via spectrum analysis of audio recordings by a blinded, independent researcher. Pearson product-moment correlations were used to examine relationship between NFCS scores and measures of crying. Principal component factor analysis detected dimensions underlying related measures of crying. Factor scores from a factor analysis were used in stepwise linear regression to predict NFCS scores.

Results: Higher NFCS scores correlated with lower peak fundamental frequency of crying (P<0.01) and with higher amplitudes of crying at peak fundamental frequency and dominant frequency and in overall cry sample (P<0.01). The factor analysis showed 3 significant orthogonal dimensions underlying measures of crying: Power and Velocity (amplitude and rapidity), Pitch of Crying (frequency characteristics), and Infant Arousal (turbulence and intensity) accounting for 42.3%, 17.8%, and 14.6% of variance, respectively. A regression analysis showed all 3 factor scores accounted for significant and separate portions of variance (P<0.001). The best predictor of NFCS score was Power and Velocity (P<0.002), followed by Infant Arousal (P<0.002), and Pitch of Crying (P<0.007).

Discussion: These data provide some of the first known evidence linking specific measures of infant crying with an independent, validated measure of pain.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects*
  • Crying / psychology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Videotape Recording