A spoonful of sugar makes the 'pain go away'

    SickKids researchers confirm sugar as an effective painkiller for

    TORONTO, June 30 /CNW/ - While the fictional character Mary Poppins may
have been trying to charm her young wards into the unpleasant task of cleaning
their room by singing 'A Spoonful of Sugar', her message apparently rings true
to life. Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the
University of Toronto, Mount Sinai Hospital and York University have
established that sucrose analgesia - common table sugar - can be used
effectively as a treatment to manage pain in newborns undergoing painful
medical procedures. This research is reported in the July 1 issue of the
Canadian Medical Association Journal.
    Sucrose is becoming widely used as a treatment for managing pain in
newborns during medical procedures, although there has been little
investigation into the effectiveness and safety of this application. While is
it not fully understood how sucrose provides pain relief, SickKids Adjunct
Scientist Dr. Anna Taddio and her colleagues believe that sucrose somehow
activates release of the body's own natural painkillers through sweet taste.
    "Studies have shown that unsatisfactory pain management in newborns can
have long-term effects such as increased sensitivity to pain," says Taddio.
"It is vital that we better understand both the effects of pain and how to
manage it in our patients. Our research indicates that overall, sucrose is an
effective and safe pain management option."
    The study involved 240 babies no more than two days old, half whose
mothers are diabetic. The babies were treated with either a placebo or a
sucrose solution prior to all painful medical procedures routinely performed
on babies, including venipuncture (drawing blood with a needle), heel-lance
and intramuscular injection. The scientists measured pain by evaluating facial
expressions and physiological responses of infants.
    Diabetic mothers were included in the study because their babies are
treated differently at birth, receiving additional heel-lance procedures to
monitor their glucose levels. And while it has also been thought that the use
of sucrose for diabetic offspring could elevate their blood glucose level,
this study showed no adverse effects resulting from the sucrose solution.
    Results demonstrated a modest decrease in the level of pain experienced
by the newborns who received the sucrose treatment. Analyzing the procedures
separately, researchers found that sucrose is only effective for managing pain
caused by venipuncture. According to Taddio, "More work is needed to identify
strategies that will eliminate pain completely."
    This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(CIHR) and the SickKids Foundation.

    The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University
of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest
centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators
in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care,
research and teaching. Our vision is Healthier Children. A Better World. Our
mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by creating
scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our knowledge and expertise and
championing the development of an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable
child health system. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Lisa Lipkin, The Hospital for Sick Children,
(416) 813-6380, lisa.lipkin@sickkids.ca

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