EEG detects infant pain

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Caroline Hartley and Oxford colleagues studied 72 infants during painful medical procedures.  Using EEG, they found a signature change in brain activity about a half-second after a painful stimulus. They seek to understand its use in monitoring and managing infant pain, as well as  the use of EEG in adult pain treatment.

EEG is more precise than current heart rate, oxygen saturation level, and facial expression pain assessment, which are affected by other stressful, non-painful events.

In one experiment, 11 out of 12 infants had a decreased pain-related EEG signal after doctors applied a topical anesthetic to their feet.  A new study uses EEG to test the efficacy of morphine in infants, whose skin and intestines absorb drugs differently than adults.

EEG is being miniaturized by companies such as Neurosteer, making it an increasingly viable option for continuous pain, attention, and consciousness monitoring and treatment optimization.


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