A spoonful of sugar eases babies' vaccination pain
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Giving infants a small dose of a sugar solution just before they get injections seems to make the pain more tolerable, a study shows.
"Administration of 2 milliliters of a 24% oral sucrose solution 2 minutes before routine immunizations is effective in decreasing maximum immunization pain and shortens the time before returning to a near normal state in infants at 2 and 4 months of age," the research team reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Linda A. Hatfield, at the Pennsylvania State University School of Nursing in University Park, and her associates gave the sugar solution to 38 infants and plain water to 45 infants before they were to get a series of injections.
The first, second and third injections were administered at 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes after the solutions were given.
To assess the babies' experience of pain, the investigators used a validated composite pain scale that measures crying, facial expression, behavior, body movement, and sleep. The scale goes from 0 to 5, with higher scores representing greater pain. Pain was assessed immediately after each injection, and at 9 minutes.
Scores ranged from 1.19 to 3.80 immediately after each injection in the group given the sugar solution, versus 3.02 to 4.81 in the group given water. At the 9-minute assessment, mean scores were 0.59 and 2.75, respectively.
"Although sucrose did not eliminate pain at any point in time," Hatfield and her associates write, "other pain reduction or comforting measures (acetaminophen, distraction, holding, feeding, etc) used in conjunction with sucrose administration could provide additional comfort for infants."
SOURCE: Pediatrics, February 2008.