The Neonatal Brain and Opioids

Preeta George, Robert Moore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The neonatal brain, and its response to pain, stress, and opioids, has been a topic of debate for decades. Most neonates are subject to painful procedures in hospital, which may have a profound adverse impact on neurodevelopmental and psychological outcomes. Repetitive painful stimuli alter perception and response to pain resulting in the “wind-up phenomenon.” The role of opiates is primarily to ameliorate adverse effects in the acute phase and mitigate the long-term sequelae of pain. Despite the benefit of analgesia, there are ongoing controversies that stem from evidence suggesting long-term adverse outcomes following the administration of opioids in neonates. Apoptosis seen in animals and human microglia cells has been attributed to morphine with a lasting impact in behavior, spatial recognition memory, and delayed response times. This chapter illustrates the response of a neonatal brain to opioids and pain, and addresses potential long-term consequences of pain and opioid therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse Volume 3
Subtitle of host publicationGeneral Processes and Mechanisms, Prescription Medications, Caffeine and Areca, Polydrug Misuse, Emerging Addictions and Non-Drug Addictions
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780128006771
ISBN (Print)9780128006344
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Chronic pain
  • Morphine
  • Neonate
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pain


Dive into the research topics of 'The Neonatal Brain and Opioids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this