A cross-sectional examination of the relationships between caregiver proximal soothing and infant pain over the first year of life


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Abstract

SummaryIn a longitudinal cohort of 760 caregiver–infant dyads, earlier infant pain behaviour was a stronger predictor of later infant pain responding than caregiver proximal soothing.Although previous research has examined the relationships between caregiver proximal soothing and infant pain, there is a paucity of work taking infant age into account, despite the steep developmental trajectory that occurs across the infancy period. Moreover, no studies have differentially examined the relationships between caregiver proximal soothing and initial infant pain reactivity and pain regulation. This study examined how much variance in pain reactivity and pain regulation was accounted for by caregiver proximal soothing at 4 routine immunizations (2, 4, 6, and 12 months) across the first year of life, controlling for preneedle distress. One latent growth model was replicated at each of the 4 infant ages, using a sample of 760 caregiver–infant dyads followed longitudinally. Controlling for preneedle infant distress, caregiver proximal soothing accounted for little to no variance in infant pain reactivity or regulation at all 4 ages. Preneedle distress and pain reactivity accounted for the largest amount of variance in pain regulation, with this increasing after 2 months. It was concluded that within each immunization appointment across the first year of life, earlier infant pain behaviour is a stronger predictor of subsequent infant pain behaviour than caregiver proximal soothing. Given the longer-term benefits that have been demonstrated for proximal soothing during distressing contexts, caregivers are still encouraged to use proximal soothing during infant immunizations.

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