PEDIATRICS, Volume 87 Number 2, Pages 215-218, February 1991.

Sucrose as an analgesic for newborn infants

EM Blass and LB Hoffmeyer

Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.


The effectiveness of sucrose as an analgesic agent for newborn infants was assessed during two standard painful hospital procedures: blood collection via heel lance and circumcision. Infants who drank 2 mL of a 12% sucrose solution prior to blood collection cried 50% less during the blood collection procedure than did control infants who had received 2 mL of sterile water. Crying of infants who ingested sucrose returned to baseline levels within 30 to 60 seconds after blood collection whereas control infants required 2.5 to 3.0 minutes to return to baseline. Like findings were obtained for infants who received sucrose on a pacifier prior to and during circumcision. Specifically, control infants who underwent a standard circumcision procedure without intervention cried 67% of the time. A water-moistened pacifier reduced crying to 49% (P less than .01). Crying was reduced further to 31% (P less than .05) by providing infants with a sucrose-flavored pacifier to suck. These findings, which parallel results obtained in studies of pain in infant rats, provide a potent yet simple, benign intervention to help alleviate stress and pain routinely experienced by human infants.

© 1991 by The American Academy of Pediatrics

(File revised 13 September 2006)

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