The nature and numbers of invasive procedures were studied in 54 consecutive infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. Over 3000 procedures were recorded, 74% in infants below 31 weeks of gestation. One infant (23 weeks' gestation, birth weight 560 g) underwent 488 procedures. Heel prick blood sampling was the most common procedure (56%), followed by endotracheal suction (26%) and intravenous cannula insertion (8%). Invasive procedures which would cause pain or distress to a child are frequently performed on infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. A reduction in the number of procedures, modifying them, or providing adequate analgesia could relieve some of this pain and distress.
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