Sucrose Beats Facilitated Tucking for Preemie Pain Relief

Oral sucrose, with or without facilitated tucking, has pain-relieving effect on preterm infants

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Oral sucrose alone, or in combination with facilitated tucking (FT), is effective for reducing heel stick-related pain in preterm infants, whereas FT alone has limited analgesic effect, according to a study published online Jan. 9 in Pediatrics.

Eva L. Cignacco, Ph.D., from the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues compared the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic pain-relieving interventions for 71 preterm infants between 24 and 32 weeks of gestation. The infants were randomized to oral sucrose, FT, and a combination of the interventions. During the first 14 days of their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, baseline, heel stick, and the recovery phases of five heel stick procedures were videotaped for each infant. Video sequences were rated by four independent nurses using the Bernese Pain Scale for Neonates.

The investigators found that, compared with sucrose, FT alone was significantly less effective for relieving repeated procedural pain. Compared with both single-treatment groups, the combination of FT with sucrose was significantly more effective for relieving pain in the recovery phase. Pain responses were not found to be significantly different across gestational ages.

"Sucrose with and without FT had pain-relieving effects even in preterm infants of <32 weeks of gestation having repeated pain exposures," the authors write. "FT was not as effective and cannot be recommended as a nonpharmacologic pain relief intervention for repeated pain exposure."

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