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Sugar and Skin Contact May Be Best Painkiller for Babies

Study suggests using both together more effective than either method alone

TUESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Newborns given a combination of 25 percent oral dextrose solution and skin-to-skin contact feel less pain during hepatitis B vaccination than if they are given either pain relief method on its own, according to a study in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Aurimery Gomes Chermont, M.D., of the Federal University of Para in Belem, Brazil, and colleagues conducted a study of 640 healthy term newborns who, within 12 to 72 hours of birth, were vaccinated against hepatitis B. The babies were randomized to receive no analgesia, oral 25 percent dextrose treatment or skin-to-skin contact starting two minutes before vaccination, or both.

The researchers measured the babies' response to pain using the Neonatal Facial Coding System and Neonatal Infant Pain scores and found that those given either method of pain relief scored lower in terms of pain response than the control group, but those that were given both treatments had the best pain response profile of all the groups.

"Despite the limitation of this study being partially blinded, the internal validity and external validity of the study rely on its careful methodologic design," the authors write. "Future studies should evaluate the use of skin-to-skin contact and sweeteners for repeated procedural pain in sicker neonates. Pain is not indispensable for growing up."

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