Medical College of Wisconsin
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Newborn behavioral and physiological responses to circumcision. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 2003;28(5):313-7; quiz 318-9



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-27744515288 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   11 Citations


PURPOSE: To examine the effect of preoperative acetaminophen given as analgesia before circumcision on newborns' behavioral response.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A convenience sample of 53 male newborn infants (GA 35 to 42 weeks) who were.24 hours of age and whose parents had consented to circumcision were enrolled in the study. All of the infants enrolled were the patients of providers who did not routinely use anesthesia for circumcision. They were assigned to two groups based on physician standing order for preoperative acetaminophen. The first group received oral acetaminophen during the preoperative period; the second group received no preoperative analgesia. No further analgesia or anesthesia was given, as was the customary policy. Behavioral observations using the Neonatal Inventory Pain Scale (NIPS) and physiologic monitoring occurred at 5 minutes preoperatively, during application of restraints, at 1-minute intervals intraoperatively and at 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes postoperatively.

RESULTS: There were no differences in the demographic variables between groups. The overall mean NIPS scores for the following characteristics were lower (indicating more relaxation) in newborns who received preoperative analgesia: arm movements (0.27 vs 0.52); leg movements (0.27 vs 0.59); facial expression (0.24 vs 0.27); state of arousal (0.15 vs 0.46); and breathing quality (0.20 vs 0.38). However, newborns who received pre-op analgesia had higher crying scores (0.42 vs 0.33), although both groups had mean crying scores in the lowest range.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Despite its small sample size, this study suggests that preoperative analgesia before circumcision could be helpful in managing the pain of circumcision. Nurses have a responsibility to advocate for policy and practices changes that provide interventions for pain relief for all newborns.

Author List

Malnory M, Johnson TS, Kirby RS


Teresa Johnson PhD Associate Professor in the Nursing department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Administration, Oral
Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
Circumcision, Male
Facial Expression
Infant Behavior
Infant, Newborn
Pain Measurement
Sample Size
Severity of Illness Index
Treatment Outcome