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Keywords

Infant, Pain, Pain measurement, Pain therapy

 

Authors

  1. Byers, Jacqueline Fowler PhD, RN, CNAA
  2. Thornley, Kristen MSN, ARNP

ABSTRACT

Unfortunately the history of pain management in infant care has included decades of inadequate analgesia for a wide range of medical procedures, including major surgery. This was justified in part on fear of drug and analgesic risks to the infant, as well as the commonly held belief that infants do not respond to, or remember, painful experiences. Today we understand that infant pain is encoded into observable manifestations through which an infant communicates behavioral and physiological changes such as altered vital signs, characteristic cries, and facial expressions. The purposes of this article are to (1) describe infants' physiological and behavioral responses to pain and its adverse effects, (2) review pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic infant pain management modalities and reliable pain assessment tools for use in clinical practice, and (3) educate healthcare professionals about the importance of assessment and management of infant pain.