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OBJECTIVES: Premature birth is associated with a wide range of complications in later life, including structural and functional neurological abnormalities and altered pain sensitivity. We investigated whether during anaesthesia premature-born children display different patterns of background EEG activity and exhibit increased responses to nociceptive stimuli. METHODS: We examined background EEG and time-locked responses to clinical cannulation in 45 children (mean age (±SD) at study: 4.9(±3.0)years) under sevoflurane monoanaesthesia maintained at a steady-state end-tidal concentration of 2.5%. 15 were born prematurely (mean gestational age at birth: 29.2 ± 3.9 weeks) and 30 were age-matched term-born children. RESULTS: Background levels of alpha and beta power were significantly lower in the premature-born children compared to term-born controls (p=0.048). Clinical cannulation evoked a significant increase in delta activity (p=0.032), which was not significantly different between the two groups (p=0.44). CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that whilst under anaesthesia premature-born children display different patterns of background brain activity compared to term-born children. SIGNIFICANCE: As electrophysiological techniques are increasingly used by anaesthetists to gauge anaesthetic depth, differences in background levels of electrophysiological brain activity between premature and term-born children may be relevant when considering titration of anaesthetic dose.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Neurophysiol

Publication Date





1216 - 1222


Anaesthesia, EEG, Nociception, Preterm, Anesthesia, General, Child, Child, Preschool, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Premature, Male, Methyl Ethers, Premature Birth, Term Birth