About 10 to 15 per cent of newborns require prolonged hospitalization for conditions such as preterm birth, congenital defects and sepsis (a blood stream infection). As part of their medical care, these infants are often exposed to multiple invasive procedures that may be painful.
"It was not so long ago that infants routinely underwent painful procedures without the benefits of analgesia. Our previous studies showed that infants do feel extreme pain, that they remember this pain and that it affects their future pain responses," said Dr. Anna Taddio, the study's lead author and principal investigator, a SickKids scientist and pharmacist, and an assistant professor of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto.
"Within the last decade, the pendulum started to swing in the other direction, and pain relievers began to be used more liberally in infants. However, more information was needed about the benefits and risks of the different treatment options. We undertook this study to determine the most effective way to manage pain in infants undergoing central line placements and to delineate the side effects associated with their use," said Dr. Taddio.
The research team studied the relative efficacy and safety of a topical anaesthesia (tetracaine) and intravenous opioid analgesia (morphine), used alone or in combination, for management of pain in newborns undergoing insertion of a central venous catheter. Many hospitalized newborns require central lines for the administration of medication and nutrition. The randomized, double-blind, controlled trial included 132 ventilated newborns in the neonatal intensiv
Contact: Laura Greer, Public Affairs
University of Toronto