Oral Sucrose Reduces Pain of Infant Immunizations

February 5, 2008

Oral sucrose is an effective analgesic for infant immunizations, reducing pain scores compared to treatment with a sterile water control solution, according to a report published in Pediatrics in February.

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Oral sucrose is an effective analgesic for infant immunizations, reducing pain scores compared to treatment with a sterile water control solution, according to a report published in Pediatrics in February.

Linda A. Hatfield, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues investigated the analgesic properties of oral sucrose administered during infant immunizations. The researchers analyzed data from 83 healthy, term infants randomized to treatment with a 24 percent sucrose solution followed by a pacifier prior to two- and four-month routine immunizations, or a sterile water control solution with pacifier. A previously validated children's pain scale was used to measure acute pain responses.

Compared to infants in the placebo group, sucrose-treated infants demonstrated reductions in pain scores during immunizations. In addition, sucrose-treated infants returned to a near normal state faster than placebo-treated infants. The researchers calculated a number-needed-to-treat of four to observe the lowest two behavioral pain scores in an infant.

"Sucrose is inexpensive, short acting, non-sedating, easily administered, non-invasive and commercially available," the authors write. "The rapid onset and the absence of long-term effects of the analgesia facilitate its use for pain prevention during common procedures in ambulatory practice sites and in hospital settings."

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