Researchers at Georgia State University have been the first to prove that infants who were not administered pre-emptive morphine before a painful procedure will need more morphine in adulthood to modulate their pain.
The study, which has been published online in Pediatric Research, had divided a group of rat pups into two, with one group receiving an injection of morphine sulfate on the day of birth while the other received a saline injection prior to inducing inflammation.
While the former group of rodents behaved normally after getting identical procedures during a 60-day period, the latter showed significant increases in pain sensitivity and were resistant to the pain relieving effects of morphine in adulthood.
According to Anne Z. Murphy, Ph.D., a GSU Professor of Neuroscience and member of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, and graduate student Jamie LaPrairie, the results confirmed the long-term behavioural benefits.
Murphy said: "These results suggest that there are long-term benefits of providing all newborns with some sort of pain relieving medicine prior to the initiation of an invasive procedure."