Researchers say their new study confirms what babies have been trying to tell us all along: Of course, they feel pain. In fact, they may be more sensitive to it than adults, according to a post at Science Daily. Oxford scientists used MRI scans to study the brains of newborns and found that they lit up in much the same way that adult brains do when exposed to pain. In the study, they mildly poked the babies' feet while they were sleeping, and they poked the feet of adults for comparison. In the resulting brain scans, 18 of the 20 regions that lit up in the grown-ups lit up in the infants as well. What's more, the babies had the same reaction to a mild poke that adults did to a poke that was four times stronger, suggesting that the wee ones have less of a tolerance for pain, reports HealthDay.
“The infant’s brain is much more developed than I was expecting,” says lead researcher Rebeccah Slater, as quoted at Time. Slater and her team say the perception that babies don't have fully developed pain receptors is still evident in modern medicine, as reflected in an earlier study showing that 60% of babies undergoing presumably painful procedures during intensive care receive no pain medication. The scientists say that further research should refine ways to measure pain in infants and that, in the meantime, doctors should consider giving pain medication to babies for procedures that require it in older children. (Dads, meanwhile, can get a taste of the pain moms experience during childbirth.)