Posted on 23-01-2017

A sweet solution for reducing procedural pain in neonates

Sweet solutions have been repeatedly demonstrated to be analgesic in neonates undergoing medical procedures. Despite the extent of evidence for the efficacy of this intervention, clinical trials continue to be conducted using placebo/no-treatment groups. Thus, Dr. Bonnie Stevens and colleagues conducted a cumulative meta-analyses (CMAs) on the impact of sugar solutions on behavioural pain outcomes.

One hundred and sixty-eight studies were included in the analysis, with a large majority (88%) having used a placebo/no-treatment group. The primary behavioural outcome which was assessed was crying time, as this is considered an indicator for pain during medical procedures. Overall, the CMA conclusively demonstrated that administration of a sugar solution is effective in reducing crying time in neonates. Given the proven efficacy of this intervention, it is no longer ethically responsible to continue to conduct controlled trials which include a placebo/no-treatment group. Consideration of alternative control groups is, therefore, warranted. Thus, this meta-analysis has important implications for the design of future trials investigating interventions for reducing procedural pain in babies and supports the continual use of sweet solutions in the clinic.

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Reference: Harrison et al. (2017). Sweet solutions to reduce procedural pain in neonates: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics.