How do childrens pain experiences differ from those adults?
There is evidence that children experience pain differently than adults. Normative quantitative sensory testing (QST) values demonstrate that younger children (<8 years of age) are less sensitive to thermal and mechanical stimuli and more sensitive to pain stimuli than older children (>9-year-olds). Reference values for QST differ for children as compared to adults. Research also demonstrates that noxious stimuli experienced during the vulnerable neonatal period of neuronal plasticity may trigger unpredicted long-term epigenomic changes that affect the brain, neurodevelopment, and pain reactivity into adulthood. Very preterm infants exposed to repeated neonatal procedural pain and stress may have alterations in their brain microstructure and function, stress systems, neurodevelopment, and stress-sensitive behaviors. However, despite different engagement of brain regions during functional brain imaging, there is no evidence for greater prevalence of pain syndromes for children born prematurely and exposed to early repeated painful events when compared with children and adults born healthy at full term.