29 November 1999

Babies don't like pain!

by Kate Melville

In an amazing breakthrough (we are being ironic here) researchers have found that by giving babies who are in pain a small amount of a sugary solution and a pacifier (also known as a dummy) helps to alleviate their distress!

The study published in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that this technique is also simple and safe and should be widely used.

Maybe it's just me but the fact that an authoritative medical journal would see fit to publish this 'new breakthrough' seem incredible, but perhaps less so than the fact that someone actually had to fund and carry out research that any mother knows almost instinctively.

This work comes from Poissy Hospital in France where researchers studied 150 new born babies and their response to pain when undergoing the taking of routine blood samples. 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 followed by sucking on the pacifier. Researchers suggest that this pain relief occurs because the sweet solutions may activate painkillers like endogenous opioids that occur naturally in the body (although they admit the precise mechanism by which pacifiers relieve pain is unknown)!

What next, a study to see why babies cry when we stick pins in them?