Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Analysis And Comment Controversy

Can fetuses feel pain?

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 13 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:909

Rapid Response:

Pain is a 'conscious' feeling

Pain is a perception of the conscious mind and is therefore absent in
persons who are in coma for lengthy periods of time. People who regain
consciousness after prolonged coma do not mention about any pain felt
during the comatose state. Likewise it is obvious that fetuses cannot feel
pain sensation until their nervous system is fully mature and their
cerebral functions begin to recognise pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

The study helps us to understand the processes involved in pain.
Although fetuses seem oblivious to our intentional probing and prodding
while growing in the uterus medical researchers need to treat them with
respect or we will be a pain in their neck!

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

15 April 2006
Rajan TD
Consultant Skin & Sex Transm Diseases, Andheri 0091-22-56982747
CMPH Medical College, Mumbai, India