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Breastfeeding No Balm for Pain in Preterm Infants

But, breastfeeding during a procedure does not keep them from developing breastfeeding skills

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Breastfeeding preterm infants during minor painful procedures does not appear to serve a palliative function, but it also does not appear to thwart the subsequent development of an infant's breastfeeding skills, according to research published in the November issue of Pain.

Liisa Holsti, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues randomized 57 premature infants to be breastfed or given a pacifier during blood collection. They sought to evaluate the effect of breastfeeding on managing acute pain in preterm infants and to see if the treatment led to any change in breastfeeding skills.

After assessing Behavioral Indicators of Infant Pain (BIIP) scores and heart rate measurements, the researchers found no difference in the experience of pain between the two treatment groups, although lower BIIP scores correlated significantly with more mature sucking patterns during the Lance/squeeze. Breastfeeding during a procedure, however, did not appear to adversely influence the development of an infant's breastfeeding skills.

"Breastfeeding during blood collection did not reduce pain indices or interfere with the acquisition of breastfeeding skills. Exploratory analyses indicate there may be benefit for infants with mature breastfeeding abilities," the authors write.

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