Canadian-led researchers say that they have formulated a combination of drugs that could ward off the pain in infants. It was believed for a long time that new borns did not feel any pain. But this theory has been laid to rest by stringent research. The problem was how to stop this pain without affecting the basic constitution of infants.
Principal investigator Anna Taddio said that pediatric pain management is a complex issue. Taddio, a scientist and pharmacologist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children said that at least one in 10 newborns have to undergo prolonged hospitalization for congenital defects or birth related illnesses. "It was not so long ago that infants routinely underwent painful procedures without the benefits of analgesia," said Ms. Taddio. "Our previous studies showed that infants do feel extreme pain, that they remember this pain and that it affects their future pain responses." To see which pain killer worked best reserachers tested the response of infants while giving needle pokes. They found that morphine and the skin anesthetic tetracaine worked best. "Babies respond to pain the same way that adults do and children do. Their heart rate goes up and their blood pressure goes up," Taddio said. "And also, they have expressions of pain, so facial expressions are our most important indicator. And we look for specific actions that the face does the eyebrows come together and down a little, you squish your eyes shut and open your mouth wide." The details of the study appear in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.