Practical pain management in the neonate

Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2010 Sep;24(3):291-307. doi: 10.1016/j.bpa.2010.04.001.


Neonatal care is advancing to levels where more neonates are now offered more invasive interventions, exposing them to more prolonged hospital care. Consequently, the provision of effective and consistent management of pain in these neonates has become a pressing challenge. Advances in neonatal care have not only increased the number of neonates, who are exposed to noxious stimuli, but, over recent decades, also altered the patterns of exposure. Both procedural and postoperative pain remain distinct in nature, prevalence and management, and need to be addressed separately. Recent advances in the management of neonatal pain have been facilitated by improved methods of pain assessment and an increased understanding of the developmental aspects of nociception. Over the past decade, there have been some advances in the available pharmacological armamentarium, modest clarification of the risks of both untreated pain and aggressive analgesic practice and a greater recognition of non-pharmacological analgesic techniques. However, even advanced health systems fail to consistently articulate pain management policy for neonates, institute regular pain assessments and bridge the gaps between research and clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / surgery
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial