Pain Assessment among African Neonates

Nshimirimana DA, Uwurukundo JMC, Kokonya D, Biraboneye P, Were F, Baribwira C. "Pain Assessment among African Neonates." American Journal of Pediatrics. 2016;2(2).


Neonates who require treatment and venous drawing of blood samples in the newborn units are subjected to acute and painfully invasive procedures. Several tools to assess pain among newborns have been developed and are widely used in developed countries, but in Africa, there is limited experience in the assessment pain among newborns. This study assessed physiological and behavioral responses to pain among neonates during invasive procedures performed in a newborn unit in Rwanda. A total of 60 neonates born at gestational age of 28-42 weeks at the National University of Rwanda Teaching and Referral Hospital in the year 2005 were enrolled into this study. Blood pressures, heart and respiratory rates, oxygen saturation levels, the Neonatal Facing Coding System (NFCS) and Neonatal Acute Pain (APN) pain tools were and scores recorded before, immediately and 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes after procedures were recorded. Physiological parameters were compared using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test while the NFCS and APN were compared using the McNemar Test. All (100%) neonates experienced acutely peak pain in the first 5 minutes of the invasive procedures with peak responses recorded at 2.5 minutes and no pain (resolution) after 15 minutes among 81% of the neonates and only 6% experienced pain after 20 minutes. The increases in systolic blood pressures immediately after inflicting pain, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes were statistically significant (p<0.001, p<0.001, p<0.005 and p<0.046) respectively compared to the diastolic blood pressures whose significant increases were at 5 and 10 minutes, (p<0.001 and p<0.001) respectively. Respiratory rates were significantly high at the onset (p<0.001), 5 minutes (p<0.001) and 10 minutes later (p<0.002). Heart rates significantly increased at the onset of the procedures (p<0.000), 5 minutes (p<0.001) and after 10 minutes (p<0.033). Decrease in oxygen saturation immediately after the procedures was significant (p<0.001). Oxygen saturation immediately after the procedures significantly increased up to 5 minutes (p<0.001) and 10 minutes (p<0.001). Invasive procedures caused acute pain among neonates in the African settings but to date, neonatal practice had not been given its due consideration with the aim of reducing pain among African neonates.

Keywords: Pain, Assessment, Neonates, Physiological, APN, NFCS, Africa


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