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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 120-128

Indian association of paediatric anaesthesia advisory for pain management in neonates and preverbal children

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Association and Research, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Pediatric Anesthesia, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive care, Rainbow Children's Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
5 Indian Association of Paediatric Anaesthesiologists, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Indu Mohini Sen
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Association and Research, Chandigarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/TheIAForum.TheIAForum_4_21

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In the past, management of pain in neonates was regarded as unnecessary, with the belief that neonates have an immature nervous system and do not perceive pain. Later studies confirmed that neonates certainly do feel pain, though they lack the inhibitory mechanisms that modulate excruciating stimuli, unlike in older children. Repeated painful encounters experienced in the newborn period are associated with poor cognitive and motor development by 1 year of age. Pain in preverbal infants and children is also poorly recognized and often undertreated. Neonates and preverbal children cannot verbally communicate their pain and discomfort but express them through specific behavioral, physiological, and biochemical responses. Several pain measurement tools have been developed for young children as surrogate measures of pain. To achieve optimum postoperative or procedural pain relief, easily understandable tools and a multimodal treatment module should be tailor-made for each health-care facility that cares for neonates and young infants. The aim of this advisory is to outline key concepts of pain assessment in neonates and preverbal children and suggest a rational approach to its management by all anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nursing staff, and other medical personnel caring for these children. The Indian Association of Paediatric Anaesthesia (IAPA) convened an online meeting in April 2020 to formulate the advisory on pain management in neonates and preverbal children under the chairmanship of Dr. Elsa Varghese, President IAPA, and members of the guideline committee. After several such meetings and revisions using feedback from IAPA members, the final guidelines were released in October 2020 on the IAPA website. Recommendations: Pain relief should generally be accomplished with a combination of nonpharmacologic approaches and pharmacologic techniques in a stepwise tiered manner by escalating type and dose of analgesia with anticipated increases in procedural pain. Nonpharmacological distraction measures may be sufficient for minor needle procedures like vaccination and venipuncture and may be offered as a first step and to complement other pain management remedies. An interdisciplinary approach involving pharmacologic, cognitive-behavioral, psychologic, and physical treatments should be employed whenever feasible.

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