Prematurely born babies do, indeed, feel pain, say researchers at University College London.
Earlier research showed babies born prematurely displayed signs of pain and distress, but the behavioral, psychological and metabolic examinations provided only indirect measurements, researchers said.
The team, reporting its finding in the Journal of Neuroscience, said the brain scans it took on 18 prematurely born infants proved they experience pain.
"We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies," lead author Maria Fitzgerald told the BBC.
Reacting to the study, support group Bliss said, "There is no justification for babies to be in pain" and prematurely born babies should be given pain relief when they are subjected to painful procedures.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
Explore further: Report details benefits of investment in basic research