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In its recent position statement, Fetal Pain: What is the Scientific Evidence, the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) reviews the laboratory and clinical data which indicates that as early as 12 weeks gestation (and possibly earlier) exposure to painful stimuli negatively affects these immature human beings. While it is obviously unethical to harm innocent human beings irrespective of their ability to perceive pain, because of the resulting acute stress responses and subsequent potential long-term negative effects, the ACPeds holds that avoiding, mitigating, and directly treating fetal, neonatal, and pediatric pain is a medical and ethical obligation.

This paper describes both where the standard of care for pain management in this population once was, where it is now, and the evidence behind the changes that resulted in dramatic medical practice improvements in neonatal and pediatric pain management.

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ACPeds board member and neonatologist Dr. Robin Pierucci stated, “Painful acts cause harm to developing unborn children and premature infants regardless of their level of conscious perception, and this fact cannot ethically be ignored.”

Informed by the evidence, ACPeds advocates the need for in-utero, neonatal, and pediatric pain prevention, mitigation, and treatment. Medicine’s double standard of acknowledging pain capability in wanted premature babies while denying it in unwanted unborn babies of the same gestational age is unconscionable.

Read the full statement here: https://acpeds.org/position-statements/fetal-pain

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