Pain sensitivity and thermal detection thresholds in young adults born preterm with very low birth weight or small for gestational age at term compared with controls
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Pain. 2018, 19 (8), 873-884. 10.1016/j.jpain.2018.03.001
The objective of this prospective long-term follow-up study was to investigate whether somatosensory function is altered among young adults born preterm with very low birth weight (VLBW; ≤1,500 g) or small for gestational age (SGA; <10th percentile) at term. In a blinded quantitative sensory testing protocol, we determined thermal detection, thermal pain, and pressure pain thresholds and the response to prolonged supra-threshold heat among 51 VLBW, 66 term SGA, and 86 term-born controls (birth weight ≥10th percentile) at 28 years. Self-reported chronic pain was also investigated. Except for increased sensitivity to cool in the term SGA group versus controls, we found no significant group differences regarding thermal or pain thresholds. Overall, male participants had higher pain thresholds, and no significant interactions of group and sex were observed (P > .14). Within the VLBW group, neonatal mechanical ventilation was associated with reduced sensitivity to cool, and length of mechanical ventilation correlated with lower pressure pain thresholds. The response to prolonged supra-threshold heat was similar between the groups, and the prevalence of self-reported chronic pain was not reliably different. In conclusion, low birth weight young adults were as sensitive to thermal and pain stimuli as term-born, normal birth weight controls, with the same sex differences.