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Morphine Doesn't Ease Pain in Preemies

Study says it doesn't soothe infants having invasive procedures in intensive care

FRIDAY, May 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Morphine does not relieve acute pain felt by premature infants when they undergo routine care and invasive procedures in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), says a French study.

It included 42 premature babies born at 23 weeks to 32 weeks gestation. Half received morphine at a loading dose of 100 mcg/kg, followed by infusions of 10 to 30 mcg/kg/h according to gestation. The other half received a placebo.

Heelsticks were then used to check the babies' responses to acute pain. There was little or no difference between the babies who received morphine and those who got the placebo. The study authors concluded morphine doesn't provide adequate acute pain relief for premature babies.

These babies, who are highly sensitive to pain, undergo many painful procedures as part of their standard care while in the NICU, the study noted. That's why it's critical to identify a safe and effective way to provide them pain relief.

The research was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about children and pain.

SOURCE: Pediatric Academic Societies, news release, May 2, 2004
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