Continuous pain is often not assessed during neonatal intensive care

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In an analysis of 243 neonatal intensive care units from 18 European countries, investigators found that only 2113 of 6648 (31.8%) newborns were assessed for prolonged, continuous pain. Daily assessments of continuous pain occurred in only 10.4% of newborns.

Intensive care units with local pain management guidelines, nursing champions, and increased surgical admissions performed assessments of continuous pain more frequently than other units.

"A lot of these babies are exposed to prolonged pain caused by surgical operations, repeated invasive procedures, or inflammatory diseases," said Dr. Kanwaljeet J. S. Anand, lead author of the Acta Paediatrica study. "In the absence of frequent assessments, I'm concerned that many babies may be under-treated or over-treated for painful conditions. We need to develop better ways for monitoring pain in newborn babies."

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