Neuropediatrics 2012; 43(01): 010-016
DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1307450
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Development of Somatosensory Perception in Children: A Longitudinal QST-Study

Gerrit Hirschfeld
1  Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
,
Boris Zernikow
1  Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
,
Nicole Kraemer
1  Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
,
Tanja Hechler
1  Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
,
Fuat Aksu
2  Center for Child Neurology, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
,
Elena Krumova
3  Department of Pain Management, Ruhr University Bochum, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Universitätsklinik Bergmannsheil GmbH, Bochum, Germany
,
Christoph Maier
3  Department of Pain Management, Ruhr University Bochum, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Universitätsklinik Bergmannsheil GmbH, Bochum, Germany
,
Walter Magerl
4  Department of Neurophysiology, Center of Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
,
Markus Blankenburg
1  Vodafone Foundation Institute and Chair for Children's Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Care, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
2  Center for Child Neurology, Witten/Herdecke University, Datteln, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

16 June 2011

28 December 2011

Publication Date:
19 March 2012 (online)

Abstract

Cross-sectional studies on somatosensory perception in children demonstrate lower pain thresholds for children compared with adolescents. The aim of the present longitudinal study was to replicate these age-related differences in a longitudinal design. Total 38 children and adolescents aged 6 to 16 years (two girls and two boys within each year) participated in this study. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) according to the protocol of the German research network on neuropathic pain (DFNS) was assessed twice with an interval of 15.8 ± 3.0 months. Bland–Altman analyses describe the short-term reliability of the measurements. Intraindividual sensory development was measured using paired t-test and quantified by effect sizes Cohen's d between the two measurements. QST parameters showed good short-term reliability. Over a period of 1 year, children became less sensitive to painful stimuli, especially to cold pain, pressure pain, and mechanical pain. No systematic developmental changes were observed in response to the other somatosensory stimuli. QST is reliable over short retest intervals. In line with previous results from cross-sectional studies, we find a decrease in pain sensitivity with increasing age but no differences in nonnociceptive somatosensory processing over a period of 1 year in children between 6 and 16 years of age. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of a reference-based interpretation of the individual QST data.