Pain management in newborns

Clin Perinatol. 2014 Dec;41(4):895-924. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2014.08.010. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


As a standard of care for preterm/term newborns effective pain management may improve their clinical and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Neonatal pain is assessed using context-specific, validated, and objective pain methods, despite the limitations of currently available tools. Therapeutic approaches reducing invasive procedures and using pharmacologic, behavioral, or environmental measures are used to manage neonatal pain. Nonpharmacologic approaches like kangaroo care, facilitated tucking, non-nutritive sucking, sucrose, and others can be used for procedural pain or adjunctive therapy. Local/topical anesthetics, opioids, NSAIDs/acetaminophen and other sedative/anesthetic agents can be incorporated into NICU protocols for managing moderate/severe pain or distress in all newborns.

Keywords: Analgesia; Infant-newborn; NICU; Pain; Sedation; Stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anesthetics / therapeutic use*
  • Facilitated Tucking*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method*
  • Pain Management / methods*


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics