Postgrad Med J 79:438-443 doi:10.1136/pmj.79.934.438
  • Review

Assessment and management of pain in infants

  1. P J Mathew1,
  2. J L Mathew2
  1. 1Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Joseph L Mathew, Department of Pediatrics, Advanced Pediatric Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India 160012; 
 jlmathew{at} or jlm{at}
  • Received 15 January 2003
  • Accepted 18 March 2003


Infants, including newborn babies, experience pain similarly and probably more intensely than older children and adults. They are also at risk of adverse long term effects on behaviour and development, through inadequate attention towards pain relief in early life. However, the issue of analgesia in young babies has been largely neglected in most clinical settings, despite subjecting them to painful diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Several therapeutic and preventive strategies, including systemic and local pharmacological and non-pharamacological interventions, are reported to be effective in relieving pain in infants. A judicious application of these interventions, backed by awareness and sensitivity to pain perception, on the part of the caregivers is likely to yield the best results. This article is a review of the mechanisms of pain perception, objective assessment, and management strategies of pain in infants.