Scientists have reviewed 44 studies that involved over 3,000 newborns. Those studies all showed that sugar water was a safe way of reducing pain during a single painful procedure.
The studies assessed a wide range of treatments that newborns face in hospital from heel pokes to having an IV inserted. Researchers found that sugar water or sucrose lessened the time an infant cried. Infants were also reported to grimace less if they had been given sugar water.
More research is needed to determine the best dosage to give infants and if sugar water retains its effort when procedures have to be repeated.
“As part of their hospitalization babies undergo a lot of painful procedures and pain has a lot of consequences,” says principal author Dr. Bonnie Stevens
. “I urge all health professionals and parents to be advocates for babies when it comes to managing pain and work with their nurse to determine whether sucrose can help babies”.
According to Stevens, the Associate Chief of Nursing Research, nurses prefer using sugar water when it comes to newborns because it is safe and readily available. Nurses said that the most important reason, though is simple - they can see immediate relief when it comes to an infant's pain.