Background Data on long-term consequences of neonatal pain is limited. Aim To assess whether perinatal factors, later pain experience and pain coping strategies are associated with altered pain threshold, pain tolerance and pain intensity in adolescents born preterm. Study design Observational, longitudinal study (Project on Preterm and SGA-infants, POPS-19). Subjects We analyzed data of 412 adolescents at the age of 19 years, who were born at a gestational age < 32 weeks or with a birth weight < 1500 g. Outcome measures Participants performed a standardized cold pressor test to assess pain threshold, tolerance and intensity. Furthermore, they completed a pain coping questionnaire (PCQ). Results In univariate analysis, female gender and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) were associated with lower pain tolerance, indicated by reaching the ceiling time of 180 s in ice water (females 19% vs males 29%, NEC 7% vs no NEC 25%). Female gender was associated with higher pain intensity (mean difference 0.58; 95%CI 0.21; 0.95) and lower pain threshold (log rank test p 0.007). In a multivariate Cox regression analyses, emotion focused avoidance pain coping style was significantly associated with lower pain threshold (hazard ratio HR 1.38; 95%CI 1.02; 1.87) and pain tolerance (HR 1.72; 95%CI 1.21; 2.42). NEC was significantly associated with lower pain threshold (HR 1.47; 95%CI 1.01; 2.14) and pain tolerance (HR 1.63; 95%CI 1.09; 2.41). Conclusion In adolescence, maladaptive pain coping strategy was associated with lower pain threshold, pain tolerance and higher pain intensity. NEC was associated with altered pain response in adolescents born preterm.

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Keywords Cold pressor test, Infant, Necrotizing enterocolitis, Newborn, Pain, Pain coping
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Journal Early Human Development
van Ganzewinkel, C.-J.J.L.M. (Christ-Jan), Been, J.V, Verbeek, I. (Inge), van der Loo, T.B. (Tera Boelen), Van Der Pal, S.M, Kramer, B.W, & Andriessen, P. (2017). Pain threshold, tolerance and intensity in adolescents born very preterm or with low birth weight. Early Human Development, 110, 31–38. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2017.05.001