Biomarkers for assessing pain and pain relief in the neonatal intensive care unit

Judith A. ten Barge*, Mathilde Baudat, Naomi J. Meesters, Alida Kindt, Elbert A. Joosten, Irwin K.M. Reiss, Sinno H.P. Simons, Gerbrich E. van den Bosch

*Corresponding author for this work

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Newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) regularly undergo painful procedures and may face various painful conditions such as postoperative pain. Optimal management of pain in these vulnerable preterm and term born neonates is crucial to ensure their comfort and prevent negative consequences of neonatal pain. This entails accurate and timely identification of pain, non-pharmacological pain treatment and if needed administration of analgesic therapy, evaluation of treatment effectiveness, and monitoring of adverse effects. Despite the widely recognized importance of pain management, pain assessment in neonates has thus far proven to be a challenge. As self-report, the gold standard for pain assessment, is not possible in neonates, other methods are needed. Several observational pain scales have been developed, but these often rely on snapshot and largely subjective observations and may fail to capture pain in certain conditions. Incorporation of biomarkers alongside observational pain scores holds promise in enhancing pain assessment and, by extension, optimizing pain treatment and neonatal outcomes. This review explores the possibilities of integrating biomarkers in pain assessment in the NICU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1343551
JournalFrontiers in Pain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
2024 ten Barge, Baudat, Meesters, Kindt, Joosten, Reiss, Simons and van den Bosch.


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