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Sucrose found to relieve infant discomfort

Common table sugar can help to relieve pain in babies, say researchers
Giving babies sucrose analgesia – common table sugar – can help reduce pain in babies undergoing medical procedures.

A study of more than 240 babies found that those who were given a sucrose solution prior to a procedure experienced reduced levels of pain, which was monitored by facial expressions and physiological responses, the Canadian Medical Journal reported.

However, while the researchers of the Universities of York and Toronto are not sure why sucrose works as a pain reliever, they believe that sugar works to release the body's natural painkillers.

"Studies have shown that unsatisfactory pain management in newborns can have long-term effects such as increased sensitivity to pain," says Dr Anna Taddio.

"It is vital that we better understand both the effects of pain and how to manage it in our patients.

"Our research indicates that overall, sucrose is an effective and safe pain management option."

The research also showed that the use of sucrose for babies with diabetic mothers had no impact on the blood glucose level of the infants.

Meanwhile, another study on 12 infants has shown that doctors may be unaware of how much pain premature babies really feel when undergoing medical procedures.

Dr Rebeccah Slater, who led the research, said: "Although the study is small, it does raise concerns about the tools normally used by doctors to establish whether a baby is feeling pain."

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