Preemies In Pain Get Relief With Micro-Pacifier

By: Harriet Miller, CPN, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies
Published: 06/01/2015 04:42 PM EDT on LiveScience

Harriet Miller, CPN, a nurse scientist at the Center for Nursing Research at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies at Orlando Health, contributed this article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Not long after I became a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), I began to notice something disconcerting: The infants in my care, like all babies, cried when they were tired, scared or in pain. But unlike other babies, I couldn’t hear them.

The problem was their endotracheal tube. This tube is necessary to provide these newborns with oxygen, but because it passes between their vocal cords, it prevents them from making audible sounds when they cry — something that newborns need to do quite frequently. It’s estimated that in the first two weeks after admission, the average baby will undergo 16 painful or stressful situations each day.

Managing pain for preemies

Blood tests from painful heel sticks are common in neonates, but even routine events such as a physical examination or changing a diaper can induce stress, and these babies may actually perceive such events as painful.

If pain isn’t managed properly, it can lead to negative long-term consequences in growth and development, but options for dealing with this pain are limited. The use of morphine for pain appears to be safe when it comes to the baby’s development, but it has not been proven to prevent morbidities associated with pain, and therefore continuous use is not recommended.

Another option for providing comfort and managing pain in babies is the use of a pacifier. The sucking reflex is vital to newborns. Not only does it —> Read More