The pain suffered by a child during paediatric care may influence how they experience the sensation when they are older, according to new research.
Professor Anna Murphy, working with a graduate student in her Georgia State University class Jamie LaPrairie, studied the reaction that adult animals had when injured and compared their endogenous opioid levels with animals that were injured at birth.
The test subjects that were hurt during birth had double the level of endogenous opioid and so were less sensitive to pain.
Professor Murphy pointed out that pain is necessary warning sign in life and these results suggest hospitals may need to increase the use of post-operative medicine on infants.
She added: "It's imperative that pain be treated. We once assumed that a newborn infant is insensitive to pain, and this is clearly not the case."
A recent study at the University of California indicated that babies should be screened for excess bilirubin in their blood, as it can help prevent jaundice.