Neurobiological Consequences of Early Painful Experience: Basic Science Findings and Implications for Evidence-Based Practice

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As healthcare teams have worked to improve infant survival rates, the management of painful events experienced by these hospitalized neonates has increased and yet pain management remains highly variable between healthcare institutions. At the same time, emerging evidence suggests that these early painful experiences may alter the trajectory of development for pain-processing pathways both peripherally and centrally. This concise review highlights findings from both the basic and clinical science literature supporting the hypothesis that early painful experiences can have long-lasting negative effects on biological, psychological, and socioemotional functions. Implications for pain management in neonates and considerations for evidence-based practice change are discussed.

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