Neurobiology of Pain in Children: An Overview

The Open Biochemistry Journal 24 Feb 2009 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874091X00903010018


The evaluation of pain in the newborn and the infant is difficult because pain is mainly a subjective phenomenon. Until a few years ago, several myths persisted. First, the myth that children, especially infants, do not feel pain the way adults do, therefore there is no untoward consequences for them. Second, lack of assessment and reassessment for the presence of pain. Third, misunderstanding of how to conceptualise and quantify a subjective experience. Fourth, lack of knowledge of pain treatment. Fifth, the notion that addressing pain in children takes too much time and effort, in ultimate analysis resulting in wasting time. Sixth, fears of hidden -and not easy to diagnose or prevent- adverse effects of analgesic medications, including respiratory depression and addiction. Finally, from a conceptual point of view, high thresholds of pain in neonates and infants were considered to be present by natural character, and useful in protecting infant from pain during birth and transit through the narrow vaginal channel.

The present review is focused on the description of different theories on the pain pathogenesis in children.

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