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Psychology & Neuroscience

versão On-line ISSN 1983-3288


VALERI, Beatriz Oliveira  e  LINHARES, Maria Beatriz Martins. Pain in preterm infants: effects of sex, gestational age, and neonatal illness severity. Psychol. Neurosci. [online]. 2012, vol.5, n.1, pp.011-019. ISSN 1983-3288.

Neonates hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit are exposed to many painful and stressful procedures. Biobehavioral pain reactivity in preterm infants during the neonatal period may reflect the capacity of the central nervous system to regulate arousal and neurobiological organization. We review empirical studies on the effects of sex, gestational age, and neonatal illness severity on pain reactivity in children born preterm. A literature search was conducted using PubMed, Institute of Scientific Information Web of Science, PsycINFO, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature, and Scientific Electronic Library Online databases. Additionally, a special search was performed in online journals that publish pain studies including Pain, Early Human Development, European Journal of Pain, and Pain Management Nursing. The literature search covered the period from 2004 to 2009. Data were extracted according to predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of the 18 studies reviewed, 16 analyzed gestational age, 13 examined neonatal illness severity, and eight focused on sex. Most of the studies analyzed more than one of these three variables. The majority of the studies found effects of gestational age (n = 14) and neonatal illness severity (n = 11) on pain responses. Only two studies found an influence of sex on infant pain responses. In conclusion, gestational age and neonatal illness severity influence pain responses in infants born preterm. Further studies should be conducted to examine the influence of sex on pain responses.

Palavras-chave : pain responses; neonates; sex; gestational age; illness severity.

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