Infants admitted to ICU may later develop migraine
Admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at birth is associated with the development of migraine later on in childhood, according to investigators from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Previous studies have suggested that early painful or stressful events can sensitize an individual to later pain or stress, Dr. Anuradha Venkatasubramanian and Seetha B. Maneyapanda report in the medical journal Pediatrics.
To further investigate, the researchers reviewed the records of 280 children with migraine to see if there was an association between hospitalization in the NICU and migraine severity in later life.
Patients who had been in the NICU at birth received significantly more pain medications than did patients who had not been in the NICU, the authors report. They also developed their migraines at a significantly earlier age than did patients who did not remain in the NICU.
The effects found in the NICU group could not be attributed to gender, family history, or other predisposing factors, the researchers note.
These results, the investigators suggest, support previous observations that early painful experiences alter developing neurological pathways that lead to modification of the pain pathway and alteration of long-term pain experiences.
The team calls for additional research into the assessment and treatment of pain in newborns, which may help to avoid long-lasting neurologic alterations.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, October 2005.
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