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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Apr 2023 - 7 Apr 2023


Pharmacology/Drug Development

2023 Apr 04

Cochrane Database Syst Rev



Non-opioid analgesics for procedural pain in neonates.


Persad E, Pizarro AB, Bruschettini M


Neonates are an extremely vulnerable patient population, with 6% to 9% admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) following birth. Neonates admitted to the NICU will undergo multiple painful procedures per day throughout their stay. There is increasing evidence that frequent and repetitive exposure to painful stimuli is associated with poorer outcomes later in life. To date, a wide variety of pain control mechanisms have been developed and implemented to address procedural pain in neonates. This review focused on non-opioid analgesics, specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists, which alleviate pain through inhibiting cellular pathways to achieve analgesia.  The analgesics considered in this review show potential for pain relief in clinical practice; however, an evidence summation compiling the individual drugs they comprise and outlining the benefits and harms of their administration is lacking. We therefore sought to summarize the evidence on the level of pain experienced by neonates both during and following procedures; relevant drug-related adverse events, namely episodes of apnea, desaturation, bradycardia, and hypotension; and the effects of combinations of drugs.  As the field of neonatal procedural pain management is constantly evolving, this review aimed to ascertain the scope of non-opioid analgesics for neonatal procedural pain to provide an overview of the options available to better inform evidence-based clinical practice.  OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of non-opioid analgesics in neonates (term or preterm) exposed to procedural pain compared to placebo or no drug, non-pharmacological intervention, other analgesics, or different routes of administration.