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Publication Detail
The impact of parental contact upon cortical noxious-related activity in human neonates
Abstract
© 2020 The Authors. European Journal of Pain published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Pain Federation - EFIC ® Background: Neonates display strong behavioural, physiological and cortical responses to tissue-damaging procedures. Parental contact can successfully regulate general behavioural and physiological reactivity of the infant, but it is not known whether it can influence noxious-related activity in the brain. Brain activity is highly dependent upon maternal presence in animal models, and therefore this could be an important contextual factor in human infant pain-related brain activity. Methods: Global topographic analysis was used to identify the presence and inter-group differences in noxious-related activity in three separate parental contexts. EEG was recorded during a clinically required heel lance in three age and sex-matched groups of neonates (a) while held by a parent in skin-to-skin (n = 9), (b) while held by a parent with clothing (n = 9) or (c) not held at all, but in individualized care (n = 9). Results: The lance elicited a sequence of 4–5 event-related potentials (ERPs), including the noxious ERP (nERP), which was smallest for infants held skin-to-skin and largest for infants held with clothing (p=0.016). The nERP was then followed by additional and divergent long-latency ERPs (> 750 ms post-lance), not previously described, in each of the groups, suggesting the engagement of different higher level cortical processes depending on parental contact. Conclusions: These results show the importance of considering contextual factors in determining infant brain activity and reveal the powerful influence of parental contact upon noxious-related activity across the developing human brain. Significance: This observational study found that the way in which the neonatal brain processes a noxious stimulus is altered by the type of contact the infant has with their mother. Specifically, being held in skin-to-skin reduces the magnitude of noxious-related cortical activity. This work has also shown that different neural mechanisms are engaged depending on the mother/infant context, suggesting maternal contact can change how a baby's brain processes a noxious stimulus.
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Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
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Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
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Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
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Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
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