The sweet taste of sugar can comfort babies during immunisations, as per a new study.
Within the first 18 months, babies are given as many as 15 injections. Previous research has proven they do feel pain and pain caused by injections can be reduced using medicines, creams, pacifiers and distraction techniques. One simple alternative—now gaining poulartiy—is the feeding a few drops of a sugary solution through mouth using a dropper or syringe. The sugar seems to reduce pain by triggering the release of pain-relieving chemicals in the body or by contacting taste receptors that induce feelings of comfort.
The researchers reviewed data from 14 studies involving a total of 1,551 infants aged between one month and a year. Most studies compared sucrose, given two minutes before immunisation, with water. Overall, babies given the sugary solution cried for a shorter time than those given water.
“Giving babies something sweet to taste before injections may stop them from crying for as long,” said lead researcher Manal Kassab of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan. “Although we can’t confidently say that sugary solutions reduce needle pain, these results do look promising.”
Individual studies also used varying strengths of sugar solution. The researchers say future studies should examine the effects of different concentrations.