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Papers: 22 Jun 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 13

Semin Perinatol


Effects of pain, sedation and analgesia on neonatal brain injury and brain development.


Selvanathan T, Miller SP


Critically ill newborns experience numerous painful procedures as part of lifesaving care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. However, painful exposures in the neonatal period have been associated with alterations in brain maturation and poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood. The most frequently used medications for pain and sedation in the NICU are opioids, benzodiazepines and sucrose; these have also been associated with abnormalities in brain maturation and neurodevelopment making it challenging to know what the best approach is to treat neonatal pain. This article provides clinicians with an overview of how neonatal exposure to pain as well as analgesic and sedative medications impact brain maturation and neurodevelopmental outcomes in critically ill infants. We also highlight areas in need of future research to develop standardized neonatal pain monitoring and management strategies.