Physical interventions better than sucrose at relieving pain from infant immunizations

Oral sucrose reduces pain from infant immunizations, but the 5 S’s (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking) is more effective, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Key Point: Pain scores and other signs of discomfort in infants receiving immunizations were lower in those treated with the 5 S’s—swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking—than in infants treated with sucrose only or those in a control group. The 5 S’s can be implemented even in low-resource settings with minimal training.

Pediatricians are, of course, interested in reducing both the infants’ pain and the parental anxiety about any immunization-related pain, in part because of the effect the parental anxiety level can have on the baby—so this study examined both.

Researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, conducted a randomized controlled trial of 230 infants given 3 injected immunizations at 2 months and 4 months. The infants were divided into 4 groups: control (56 infants; water before immunization and parent/caregiver comfort after); sucrose (58 infants; oral sucrose before and parent/caregiver comfort after); physical (58 infants; water before and 5 S’s by medical resident researchers after); and sucrose and physical (58 infants; sucrose before and 5 S’s by medical resident researchers after).

Using pain scores and crying as a measure of discomfort/pain, the researchers determined that the ...

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