Mother's Hands Are The Best Pain Reliever For A Baby

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Mother's Hands Are The Best Pain Reliever For A Baby
Mother's Hands Are The Best Pain Reliever For A Baby

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Mother's hands are the best pain reliever for a baby

Sugar water or breast milk has been offered to babies for a long time to soothe pain after a shot, but a new Italian study shows that a mother's hands may be the best way to soothe an infant's pain.

Mother's hands are the best pain reliever for a baby
Mother's hands are the best pain reliever for a baby

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Sugar water or breast milk has been offered to babies for a long time to soothe pain after a shot, but a new Italian study shows that a mother's hands may be the best way to soothe an infant's pain. Scientific work published in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers selected 80 healthy, three-day-old babies who had their heels pierced for blood tests. They wanted to test the effectiveness of four ways to relieve pain:

sugar water given to children on the changing table;

  • breast milk from a bottle, also on the changing table;
  • sugar water, which they were given in their mother's arms;
  • breast milk directly from the mother's breast.

Researchers monitored the infant's response to pain. They also used a non-invasive device to measure changes in oxygen levels in the brains of babies to identify areas of the brain that were activated by pain and the impact of different pain relief methods.

“Mother's hands, combined with glucose or breastfeeding, appear to relieve pain better than breast milk or glucose alone,” says study lead author Dr. Sergio Demarini of the Institute for Maternal and Child Health) in Trieste, Italy, Non-pharmacological pain relief for infants is often used during minor but painful procedures, such as blood tests. Thus, several methods have been identified that are effective in reducing the pain of infants, including sugar water, breastfeeding, swaddling the infants in a blanket, and simply placing the infants near the mother's naked breast for body contact.

During the study, the scientists used what is known as near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Sensors that emit and respond to light were attached to the outside of the baby's head. Scientists have linked different methods of pain relief in the course of the study to different types of brain reactions.

When the baby was given sugar water, the cerebral cortex showed less pain response than breast milk, which was given from a bottle on the changing table.

Breastfeeding is associated with widespread activation of the cerebral cortex, causing positive sensations that can suppress the pain of the injection, so babies in the mother's breast showed little or no pain.

The researchers did not examine the effects of just holding the baby in the mother's hands, but previous studies have argued that physical contact in this case can relieve the baby's pain.

The current study found only a small difference in pain relief between breastfeeding and using sugar water when the baby was in the mother's arms in both cases.

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