Sucrose for Analgesia! No one likes to see any one in pain – let alone little babies. Did you know ‘Infants hospitalized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) undergo frequent painful tissue-breaking procedures for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Epidemiological research from audits in NICUs in high-income countries estimates that neonates undergo an average of four to 16 painful exposures per day.”
A recent Cochrane Intervention Review ( the abstract is enclosed ) investigated how well sucrose works relieving pain in newborn babies who are ‘undergoing painful procedures (e.g. an injection, or heel lance, or insertion of a needle to obtain a blood sample (venipuncture), or eye examinations).
The babies’ pain responses (e.g. crying, grimacing) were assessed by scoring systems for pain used by health care professionals to measure the pain that babies are experiencing. In addition, they reviewed the level of pain relief related to the dose of sucrose, and the method of delivery (e.g. as a solution squirted into the mouth, or on a pacifier (also called a soother or dummy), and whether there are any safety concerns about using sucrose to relieve pain.’
The reviewers concluded in part the following:
Sucrose is effective for reducing procedural pain from single events such as heel lance, venipuncture and intramuscular injection in both preterm and term infants. No serious side effects or harms have been documented with this intervention.
We could not identify an optimal dose due to inconsistency in effective sucrose dosage among studies. Further investigation of repeated administration of sucrose in neonates is needed. There is some moderate-quality evidence that sucrose in combination with other non-pharmacological interventions such as non-nutritive sucking is more effective than sucrose alone, but more research of this and sucrose in combination with pharmacological interventions is needed.
Sucrose use in extremely preterm, unstable, ventilated (or a combination of these) neonates needs to be addressed.
Additional research is needed to determine the minimally effective dose of sucrose during a single painful procedure and the effect of repeated sucrose administration on immediate (pain intensity) and long-term (neurodevelopmental) outcomes.
The full report can be accessed here>>
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