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They want to develop rules for treating pain in newborns. Modern equipment and artificial intelligence help

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Doctors from the Institute of the Polish Mother's Health Center will use modern pain monitoring devices donated by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity to check the level of pain in newborns in intensive care units in order to later develop principles of their treatment. Too high doses of pain-relieving drugs may damage a small child's brain in the future. – It's stressful how these machines beep. The blood pressure increases or the saturation drops. This is stressful for the parent – admits a mother from Krakow.

They have just been born and already have to fight for their lives. – She was born with a weight of 787 grams, and she is stable for now, so the doctors are doing everything to make sure everything is fine – says Mrs. Elżbieta, Zuzia's mother. – It's stressful, how the machines are beeping over there. If the blood pressure increases or the saturation drops, it is very stressful for the parent – admits Mrs. Kinga, Nikodem's mother.

There is stress for the parents and pain for the child, because treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit is often combined with procedures already in the first days after birth.

Even in the 20th century, newborns were operated on without anesthesia

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– We now know that newborns feel pain, and those who are born prematurely may feel it several times more intensely than an adult or an older child – emphasizes Dr. Katarzyna Fortecka-Piestrzeniewicz, a neonatologist from the Institute of the Polish Mother's Health Center in Łódź.

Half a century ago, it was believed that newborns did not suffer because their nervous system was not fully developed. – We thought that newborns did not feel pain and the beginning of the 20th century saw newborn surgeries without anesthesia – says Professor Iwona Maroszyńska, director of the Institute of the Mother's Health Center in Łódź. – Actually, all invasive procedures, intubations, punctures, installation of pleural drains, drainage tubes into the abdominal cavity – all these procedures were performed without any anesthesia – adds Fortecka-Piestrzeniewicz.

READ ALSO: The progress in Polish health care that has been made over the last 20 years is “unprecedented”

This is the past. Now newborns are given painkillers, because untreated pain can have serious consequences for the child's development, and doctors and nurses are still learning how to recognize this pain in such young children. – Chronic, severe pain can often lead to brain damage, which is extremely dangerous in newborns – says Fortecka-Piestrzeniewicz.

– (Pain – editor's note) causes cardiovascular disorders, but also behavioral disorders in the form of feeding disorders, sleep disorders, positioning disorders – emphasizes Beata Rzepecka-Węglarz, PhD, from the Ujastek Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Krakow.

Intense and constant pain can affect a child's development

That is why doctors from the Polish Mother's Institute want to face this pain and develop a treatment regimen, because it is important to administer pain-relieving drugs to such young children with almost apothecary's precision.

– It can be compared to us going to a tailor and the tailor would sew us a coat, looking at us “with his eye”. It's much better if she sews something for us based on our measurements. And we want to collect such a measure from the patient, having information about how much pain he is in, explains Dr. Fortecka-Piestrzeniewicz.

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SEE ALSO: A disease that turns girls into silent angels. The reality of children suffering from Rett syndrome

Artificial intelligence can help

Crying may be one of the signals that a baby is suffering. – Tension of limbs, facial grimaces, but also heart rate, blood pressure – lists Aleksandra Matczak. a nurse from the Institute of the Polish Mother's Health Center in Łódź. The intensity of pain is assessed by a small device that works based on a cardiomonitor that analyzes heart activity. Such a device is used in many neonatal intensive care units. – We measure cardiac arrhythmias. He is able to tell us by processing whether the child is suffering from acute or chronic pain – explains Rzepecka-Węglarz.

– This device can also tell us whether our treatment is appropriate, whether it is not too weak, or not too many of these drugs, because they are strong drugs, after all – says Maroszyńska.

– Every painkiller, especially the very strong ones, carries the possibility of addiction, but also later problems in withdrawal from these painkillers, which is why it is so important that he gets exactly what he needs. Neither more nor less, Matczak sums up.

Neonatologists from Łódź will analyze all records from this device. Artificial intelligence will help them draw conclusions. – This analysis, minute by minute, is tedious work, but I find such first observations very interesting, so certainly this artificial intelligence could analyze a larger amount of data faster – admits Professor Maroszyńska.

Main photo source: TVN24

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