When a new born baby goes through a painful procedure, a reasonably well-coordinated increase in their brain activity is observed. However, that increased activity in the brain did no longer correspond to any change in the behaviour of the babies indicated a study by Laura Jones from the University College London.
Doctor and researches used indirect measures of pain including salivary levels of cortisol stress hormone and heartbeat patterns of newborn babies as they cannot tell when they are in pain. The pain was measured by using EEG brain activities and facial expression. The results are then examined to check whether the baby needs to be made more comfortable or painkiller is required. The data showed that babies with higher level of background stress showed a bigger brain reaction to the heel lance procedure. Nevertheless, the heightened activity in the brain did no longer correspond to a change in the baby’s behaviour.
In future, researchers plan to explore the ways in which other environmental factors including previous experiences such as interactions between mother and baby influences the way newborns process and experience pain.
By: Srishti Sharma