Pain Treatment and Anesthesia Exposure in Infancy

Study Goals

We are interested in how the brains of babies who have received pain treatment and anesthesia differ from the brains of children that did not. This information may lead to a better understanding of the long-term consequences of prolonged pain and repeated anesthesia management, all with a goal to improve pediatric clinical care.

Study Involvement

Brain MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a safe and painless procedure that uses a standard clinical MRI machine to take pictures of the brain and its activity. Once enrolled, babies will undergo brain MRI scanning. Specifically, the MRI scan will be conducted in the evening hours when babies normally sleep. No medications will be given. No other testing will be performed. MRI scan will last about 60 minutes. The research team will follow up with parents at 1 and 2 year marks via 10-min phone questionnaire to assess child’s development.

Eligibility to Participate

We are looking for less than 1-year-old babies who were exposed to pain treatment and/or anesthesia. Healthy babies of the same age with no pain and who are not on any medications are also eligible for the control group of the study.

Study Visit Overview

This study will take place at Boston Children’s Hospital in the main campus at Longwood Avenue and includes the following:

  1. Brief 10-15 min completion of the paperwork and examination of the baby.
  2. Non-sedated brain MRI under natural sleep (between 45 minutes to 1 hour) depending how well the infant sleeps.
  3. Radiologists on call will review MRI images for any incidental findings; those results will be communicated to parents in a timely fashion.
  4. If requested, a CD with pictures of the baby’s brain will be provided to parents to take home.
  5. Since MRI is safe, the study can be repeated without side effects and will be offered to re-image if the initial scan was close to birth (in neonatal period).


The compensation for participating in this study is $90 for each MRI study session. This can be used, in part, towards travel expenses and parking fees. Travel expenses such as airfare or hotel fees will not be covered by this study.


This study is supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH).


For further information, please contact Dr. Dusica Bajic at [email protected]