Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Premature babies experience real pain

Premature babies experience feelings of pain rather than simply displaying reflex reactions, a study says.

Experts have never been sure how a premature baby responds to pain, the Journal of Neuroscience reported.

But a team from University College London found that they do feel pain after analysing brain scans taken when blood samples were being drawn.

They hope the findings will lead to more formal plans for managing pain in premature babies.

Lead researcher Professor Maria Fitzgerald said: "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.

"Beforehand, although we could assume it, we did not know for sure that these babies could feel pain.

"These babies' brains are so immature that it was difficult to genuinely know that the pain was going to their brain."

Previous research had shown that premature babies are capable of displaying behavioural, physiological and metabolic signs of pain and distress.
I've never really understood the propensity in science to seriously entertain the notion that pain reactions in premature babies and in animals are only the display of reflex reactions rather than real pain. It seems a willed obstinacy to disbelieve, to me, rather than a genuinely scientific position.

Considering the painful methods that are often used to abort (viable) babies, this is bad news as well for advocates of second term and third abortion, the latter of which is currently practiced in Holland.

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