University College London researchers have revealed that premature babies do experience pain and that is factor is often overlooked.
The fact that some premature babies do not cry out during procedures like the "heel prick" test, has led researchers to speculate that they may not experience pain. However UCL researchers conducted the test on 12 premature babies and found that there were changes of oxygen levels in an area of the brain called the somatosensory cortex.
Advertisement"Although the study is small, it does raise concerns about the tools normally used by doctors to establish whether a baby is feeling pain," said Dr Rebeccah Slater, who led the research. "Infants may appear to be pain free, but may, according to brain activity measurements, still be experiencing pain."
The study appears in the Public Library of Science journal.