Neurobiology of Pain in Children: An Overview

Alberto Loizzo1, Stefano Loizzo1, Anna Capasso*, 2
1 Istituto Superiore di Sanita’, Roma,
2 Department of Pharmacology, University of Salerno, Italy

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© Loizzo et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Salerno, Italy; Tel: +39-089-969602; Fax: +39-089-969744; E-mail:


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.