Pacifiers and sugary solutions may help relieve pain in newborn babies

November 25, 1999

Randomised trial of analgesic effects of sucrose, glucose and pacifiers in term neonates

Click below to download PDF document
You will require Acrobat Reader to view file.
Click here for PDF document

Giving newborn babies who undergo painful medical procedures a small amount of a sugary solution followed by a pacifier to suck (known as a dummy in the UK) can help to alleviate their distress, say authors of a study in this week's BMJ. This technique is also simple and safe and should be widely used, say the research team.

Dr Ricardo Carbajal et al from Poissy Hospital in France studied 150 new born babies and their response to pain when undergoing the routine procedure of taking blood samples (venepuncture) during their first few days of life. The research team used a recognised rating scale to ascertain "pain" in the babies, which is based on the facial expression, limb movements and vocal expression of the infant. The team then observed the individual and combined effects of giving the babies oral sugar (in the form of glucose and sucrose solutions) and pacifiers as well as the effects of receiving neither.

They found that pacifiers had a better analgesic effect than the sweet solutions, but that the best method of reducing pain was a combination of sucrose solution (made from sterile water mixed with sugar) followed by sucking on the pacifier. Carbajal et al suggest that the pain relief elicited by sweet solutions is probably because they activate painkillers that occur naturally in the body ("endogenous opioids"). However, the precise mechanism by which pacifiers relieve pain is unknown, say the authors. They speculate that the effect may be due to "sensory dominance" whereby the sensation elicited by sucking is so strong that it diverts their attention away from the pain or because pacifiers enhance their ability to cope with the pain because babies find sucking on a pacifier a pleasurable activity.

Carbajal et al conclude that minor procedures, such as taking blood, are common in newborns and that giving these infants an oral sweet solution followed by a pacifier to suck is a simple, non-invasive and safe method that can relieve pain. They therefore advocate that these methods be more widely used.

Dr Ricardo Carbajal, Paediatrician, Department of Paediatrics, Poissy Hospital, France

Tel: 33-1-3927-4050/5705


Related Pain Articles from Brightsurf:

Pain researchers get a common language to describe pain
Pain researchers around the world have agreed to classify pain in the mouth, jaw and face according to the same system.

It's not just a pain in the head -- facial pain can be a symptom of headaches too
A new study finds that up to 10% of people with headaches also have facial pain.

New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

The insular cortex processes pain and drives learning from pain
Neuroscientists at EPFL have discovered an area of the brain, the insular cortex, that processes painful experiences and thereby drives learning from aversive events.

Pain, pain go away: new tools improve students' experience of school-based vaccines
Researchers at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have teamed up with educators, public health practitioners and grade seven students in Ontario to develop and implement a new approach to delivering school-based vaccines that improves student experience.

Pain sensitization increases risk of persistent knee pain
Becoming more sensitive to pain, or pain sensitization, is an important risk factor for developing persistent knee pain in osteoarthritis (OA), according to a new study by researchers from the Université de Montréal (UdeM) School of Rehabilitation and Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont Research Centre (CRHMR) in collaboration with researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

Becoming more sensitive to pain increases the risk of knee pain not going away
A new study by researchers in Montreal and Boston looks at the role that pain plays in osteoarthritis, a disease that affects over 300 million adults worldwide.

Pain disruption therapy treats source of chronic back pain
People with treatment-resistant back pain may get significant and lasting relief with dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation therapy, an innovative treatment that short-circuits pain, suggests a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting.

Sugar pills relieve pain for chronic pain patients
Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology.

Peripheral nerve block provides some with long-lasting pain relief for severe facial pain
A new study has shown that use of peripheral nerve blocks in the treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia (TGN) may produce long-term pain relief.

Read More: Pain News and Pain Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to