A new study has found that giving sugared water to a group of British babies helped stop their crying after their heels were pricked, a standard procedure used to take blood for several tests.
Researchers from the Leeds General Infirmary in England found that babies given 2 milliliters of a solution of half water, half sugar two minutes before the heelstick procedure had a lower heart rate and stopped crying earlier than babies who were given plain water, or lower concentrations of sugar in water.
Many doctors have thought that babies do not feel intense pain, but most of the biological mechanisms that make someone feel pain are fully or nearly developed in a newborn, Dr. Nora Haouari and colleagues reported this week in the British Medical Journal.
To help alleviate pain, "sucrose may be a useful and safe analgesic for minor procedures" in newborns, Dr. Haouari wrote.
In the study, 60 babies were taken to a warm, quiet nursery and were fully clothed except for the foot used for the blood sampling. Parents could not speak to or touch the babies, and the test solution was given by syringe into the baby's mouth.