Vaccinations And Pain

A new study shows that giving infants some sugar can help blunt the pain of vaccinations. The effect is strongest in those under a year old and strongest of all in newborn babies. This is according to the report authored by Denise Harrison from Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital. The report was published in the online edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Sweet Stuff

While the effects of the sweet substance may not be as effective in older infants as they are in newborn babies, the researchers recommend that health care providers consider administering glucose or sucrose to infants both before and during vaccination injections. The report states, "Based on extensive evidence of the efficacy of sweet solutions in neonates and the evidence from this systematic review, sucrose or glucose along with other recommended physical or psychological pain reduction strategies, such as non-nutritive sucking, breast-feeding, or effective means of distraction, should be consistently utilized for immunization. This information is important for healthcare professionals working with infants in both inpatient and outpatient settings, as sweet solutions are readily available, have a very short onset of time to analgesia, are inexpensive, and are easy to administer."

Pain Reliever

While the effectiveness of sugar solutions as a pain reliever for minor procedures on newborns has already been established, it had not been known whether or not a sugar solution would offer relief after the age of one month. In order to find out, Harrison and her research team did a thorough review of 14 controlled and randomized trials that included a total of 1,674 injections. In each trial, some babies were given an oral solution containing sucrose or glucose, while other babies were given either water or no extra treatment at all.

Ten out of the 14 studies employed sucrose solutions with concentrations spanning 12%-75%. Another three trials made use of a 30% glucose solution. The final and 14th study used three different solutions: sucrose solutions of either 25% or 50% or a 40% glucose solution while other babies were given only water. In most cases the volume of oral liquids administered totaled 2 ml. or less, though one study offered babies 10 ml. of 25% sucrose solution.

In three of the studies, 50% sucrose or 40% glucose solutions cut the crying time of the infants by an average of 10% when compared to the placebo. In six of the studies, five with sucrose, one with glucose, there was only a reduction of 16 seconds in the duration of crying, however, once the researchers excluded the studies in which 12% sucrose was administered, the reduction in crying time achieved a significant level.

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