When tots need shots, a dose of sugar to dull the pain

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© Frank Siteman/Science Faction/Corbis

When given a small amount of sugar beforehand, babies are less likely to cry when receiving injections, according to new research published in the May 12 issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood. A team of researchers from Canada, Australia and Brazil reviewed 14 studies examining how a boost of sugar affected pain experienced by more than 1,600 babies between the ages of 1 month and 1 year. Researchers found that, on average, babies who were given sugar beforehand were 20% less likely to cry out in pain — prompting them to recommend the technique for all babies ages 1 and younger.

According to the recommended vaccination schedule from the Centers for Disease Control, in the first year of life, babies are generally given up to 10 different shots, and parents and pediatricians are likely grateful for any techniques that help reduce their pain. As Dr. Adam Finn, pediatrician at the U.K.’s University of Bristol, told the BBC:

“Anything we can do to minimize the discomfort of immunization for children is to be welcomed, and I would like to see more research in this area… On the one hand parents are more likely to return if the experience is not distressing. But more fundamentally, children don’t agree to have vaccines, so we need to be sure we are making it as painless as possible for them.”