Longer-lasting pain: How to assess in infants and toddlers

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Infants and toddlers can experience longer-lasting pain from certain conditions and repeated procedures. Find out how to assess longer-lasting pain in infants and toddlers at home and in medical settings.

Key points

  • Infants can experience longer-lasting pain from certain diseases and conditions, and continuous pain from repeated medical procedures.
  • Some infants can be hyper-reactive to pain, for instance crying when held, flailing their arms and legs, and tightly closing their eyes.
  • Other infants can be hypo-reactive to pain, for example going limp, not showing interest in caregivers or having a blank face.
  • There is no standard tool for assessing chronic pain in infants. Instead, health-care providers assess a child's behaviour and certain vital signs such as heart rate and breathing.
Last updated: January 25th 2019