Mary Poppins was right after all, it seems a spoonful of sugar does make the medicine go down. At least for needle pricks and infants. A study from Hospital for Sick Children says a squirt of sugar in the mouth eases a baby's pain when given a needle.
The report published in Canadian Medical Association Journalsays that common table sugar can act as an analgesic during the routine blood tests that take place right after birth.
While doctors involved in the study say its a modest effect it is one that should be done more often to eliminate the pain an infant feels.
Using table sugar with infants have been studied frequently over the past ten years. Most studies focused on the effect it had on a one time basis while this study used three common procedures that newborns must undergo; the taking of blood from the baby's hand with a needle, a heel lance for blood tests and a vitamin K injection.
The result of the study showed that the use of sugar only helped ease pain when used for the hand puncture which was a surprise.
The study of 240 newborns used sucrose and plain water. The researchers then gauged the reactions of the infants by how much they grimaced or cried.
There are two theories as to how the sugar water helps with the pain. The first is that it acts with an infant's brain to release endorphins. The second theory is that it's a novel "hey what the heck is this" reaction to the sugar treat that distracts the baby from the prick of the needle.