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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2012 February;64(1):41-5

language: Italian

Which legal consequences for those who provoke pain to infants

Bellieni C. V. 1, Gabbrielli M. 2, Tataranno M. L. 1, Perrone S. 1, Buonocore G. 1

1 Dipartimento di Pediatria, Ostetricia e Medicina della Riproduzione Università di Siena, Siena, Italia;
2 Dipartimento di Medicina Legale, Università degli Studi di Siena, Siena, Italia


The advances in perinatal care have led to a significant increase in neonatal survival rate but also to the rise of the number of invasive procedures. Several scientific studies show that newborns are able to feel pain more intensely than adults. Despite this evidence, neonatal pain and the right to an appropriate analgesia are systematically underestimated, ignoring ethical and moral principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. Infants are more susceptible to pain and the prolonged exposure to painful sensations can alter the neural development and the response to pain causing hyperalgesia. Anyone who caused pain without using any analgesic procedure due to negligence or incompetence, should be severely punished. The right to analgesia, fundamental principle, is fully incorporated in the Italian code of Medical deontology (article 3). The doctor who does not use analgesia for newborns’ treatment can be indicted by the Italian penal code (art.582 and 583), aggravated by being the victim an infant, who is unable to defend himself. To avoid penal consequences, a careful education and attention are needed: “pediatric analgesia” should become a basic teaching in Universities and in specialization schools; analgesic treatments should be mandatory and annotated in the patient’s file even for minor potentially painful procedures.

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