Age related differences in infant pain expression and parental judgements of pain throughout the first year of life [article]

Rami Nader
For over two decades, researchers have studied the expression of pain in young infants to unlock the nature of this powerful experience early in life, with these studies resulting in the discrediting of numerous myths about infant pain (e.g., infants are insensitive to pain). The more useful measures of infant pain to emerge from this research examine facial activity, body movement and cry characteristics. To date, however, there has been little effort to examine the developmental progression
more » ... ental progression of these pain behaviours throughout early infancy. This work has great relevance for caregivers of pre-verbal infants who often are asked to assess the presence or absence and severity of pain an infant may be experiencing. This can be a challenging task, as they must extract information specific to pain from apparent generalized distress reactions, substantial variability in response among children, and similarities in response to noxious and non-noxious aversive events, among other influences on their judgments. The extent to which parental assessment accommodates changes in the nature of pain (and its expression) with infant development has received little study and is not well understood at present. The purposes of the present study were to: a) Describe how, and if, pain expression differs throughout the first year of life; b) Illustrate how parent perceptions and assessment of pain change with the development of the infant; and c) Explore the relationship between parental assessments and behavioural indices of infant pain. The study used the sociocommunications model of pain as a theoretical framework from which to describe the interplay between infant behaviour and caregiver response. Participants in this cross-sectional study were 160 infants (40 infants in each of four age groups: 2-, 4-, 6- and 12-months) receiving routine immunization injections and their parents. Following immunization procedures, parents provided judgments of the amount of pain their infants experienced and rated the importance of various cues in [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0092376 fatcat:w2y3mcmgd5hqfgksu4sebqgu5a