BABIES begin to recognise pain before they are born, a study has shown. They learn to tell the difference between pain and touch as early as the 35th week of pregnancy, researchers have discovered. Scientists measured the brain waves of 25 normal-term and 21 premature babies to look for differences in activity. As the electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings were made the infants had samples of blood taken by lancing their heels, a routine standard procedure. Among premature babies, the heel lances produced general bursts of electrical activity in the brain. But after 35 to 37 weeks the babies response switched to localised activity in specific brain areas. This showed they were perceiving pain stimulation as an experience separate from touch, said the scientists. Dr Lorenzo Fabrizi, from University College London, who led the research published in the journal Current Biology, said: 'We are asking a fundamental question about human development in this study - when do babies start to distinguish between sensations? MO