Neurophysiological measures of nociceptive brain activity in the newborn infant--the next steps.
Hartley C., Slater R.
UNLABELLED: Infants within neonatal intensive care units can receive multiple medically essential painful procedures per day. How they respond to these events, how best to alleviate the negative effects, and the long-term consequences for the infant are all significant questions that have yet to be fully answered. In recent years, several studies have examined cortical responses to noxious stimuli in the neonate through the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG). These investigations dispel any notion that the newborn infant does not process noxious stimuli at a cortical level and open the way for future research. In this Viewpoint Article, we review these studies and discuss key clinical challenges which may be elucidated with the use of these techniques. CONCLUSION: Simultaneously measuring the changes that are evoked in behaviour, physiology and the cortex following noxious events will provide the best approach to understanding the neonate's experience of pain.