Children's judgements about pain at age 8-10 years: do extremely low birthweight (< or = 1000 g) children differ from full birthweight peers?

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1998 May;39(4):587-94.


Children's judgements about pain at age 8-10 years were examined comparing two groups of children who had experienced different exposure to nociceptive procedures in the neonatal period: extremely low birthweight (ELBW) < or = 1000 g (N = 47) and full birthweight (FBW) > or = 2500 g (N = 37). The 24 pictures that comprise the Pediatric Pain Inventory, depicting events in four settings: medical, recreational, daily living, and psychosocial, were used as the pain stimuli. The subjects rated pain intensity using the Color Analog Scale and pain affect using the Facial Affective Scale. Child IQ and maternal education were statistically adjusted in group comparisons. Pain intensity and pain affect related to activities of daily living and recreation were significantly higher than psychosocial and medically related pain on both scales in both groups of children. Although the two groups of children did not differ overall in their perceptions of pain intensity or affect, the ELBW children rated medical pain intensity significantly higher than psychosocial pain, unlike the FBW group. Also, duration of neonatal intensive care unit stay for the ELBW children was related to increased pain affect ratings in recreational and daily living settings. Despite altered response to pain in the early years reported by parents, on the whole at 8-10 years of age ELBW children judged pain in pictures similarly to their term peers. However, differences were evident, which suggests that studies are needed of biobehavioural reactivity to pain beyond infancy, as well as research into beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions about pain during the course of childhood in formerly ELBW children.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Arousal
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Risk Factors