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The Mary Poppins solution: Sugar reduces needle pain for babies


May 13, 2010
The Canadian Press

Mary Poppins was singing the right tune about how to make the medicine go down, according to a new analysis.

Researchers did a review of previous studies looking at whether sugar water solutions helped babies with pain when they were being immunized.

Altogether, 14 randomized controlled trials met their criteria, and they summarized the findings from more than 1,600 injections for babies aged one month to a year.

Babies who were given sucrose or glucose cried less often and for shorter periods and had lower pain scores in 13 of the studies, compared to infants who were given water or no treatment.

The review was done by researchers in Toronto, Australia and Brazil, and published ahead of print Wednesday in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Based on their findings, the team recommends that health-care professionals consider using sucrose or glucose before and during immunization for babies up to 12 months.

“For multiple immunizations, the total dose of sweet solution should be given prior to and throughout the procedure to ensure sustained effects of sweet tasting analgesia,” says the study, which involved researchers from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

“Further studies are warranted comparing different concentrations of sucrose and glucose and the use of single dosing two minutes prior to painful procedures to multiple dosing over the course of procedures.”

It also suggests that sweet solutions should be considered for other painful procedures for infants, besides immunizations.

These solutions are readily available