Neurology Central

Are parents really that important to managing vaccination pain during infancy?

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It has been argued that primary caregivers are one of the most important factors for understanding infants and young children in pain [1,2]. Decades of attachment research have highlighted the integral role of the parent in modeling and scaffolding their child’s distress regulation during events such as pain [3]. According to classic attachment theory, during situations of threat and pain, infants have a hardwired attachment control system. During periods of distress, this system motivates infants to enact behaviors that serve the immediate goal of bringing the caregiver close for protection and the longer term goal of teaching the child to be able to self-regulate. Distress behaviors, such as crying and facial grimacing, are viewed as innate behaviors subsuming the attachment system. In compliment to the attachment system, humans are also said to have a caregiving control system that triggers an innate motivation to attend to distress signaling. In the case of infant pain, this system would work to motivate a caregiver to bring the infant closer to them and to engage in soothing strategies [4].

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