Sucrose decreases infant biobehavioral pain response to immunizations: a randomized controlled trial.

A randomized controlled experiment found that sucrose reduced baby biobehavioral pain response to vaccinations. Export Links Citation Central

LA Hatfield is the author(s).

The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and age-related variations in analgesia of oral sucrose as a preprocedural intervention during routine immunizations in infants aged 2 and 4 months.

A randomized, double-blind clinical trial of 40 healthy term newborns scheduled to receive standard immunizations from a pediatric ambulatory care clinic between May and July 2005. Infants received 24% oral sucrose solution or the control solution of sterile water 2 minutes before routine immunizations at both their 2- and 4-month, well-child visits. The University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital pain scale was used to measure serial acute behavioral pain responses at baseline, 2, and 5 minutes after administration of the solution. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to examine between-group differences and within-subject variability of the effects of treatment on overall behavioral pain scores.

FINDINGS: Infants receiving oral sucrose (n=20) showed a significant reduction in behavioral pain response 5 minutes after administration compared to those in the placebo group (n=20). At 2 minutes following solution administration, both sucrose and sterile water showed the highest mean pain score (4.54 and 4.39 respectively) indicating a severe amount of pain. At 5 minutes, the sucrose group returned to near normal at 0.27 while the placebo group remained at 3.02 indicating a percentage difference in mean pain scores relative to sterile water pain scores of 90.9. No statistically significant age-related change in behavioral pain response was noted between 2- and 4-month-old infants at 2 minutes and 5 minutes following treatment administration.

CONCLUSION: Sucrose is an effective preprocedural intervention for decreasing behavioral pain response in infants after immunizations.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Efforts to decrease the pain associated with immunizations can promote parental adherence to recommended immunizations schedules, prevent a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases and mitigate adverse neurologic outcomes in infants.

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Administration, Oral; Analysis of Variance; Clinical Nursing Research; Crying; Double-Blind Method; Facial Expression; Infant Behavior; Nursing Assessment; Pain [diagnosis; etiology; *prevention & control; psychology]; Pain Measurement; Premedication [*methods; nursing]; Prospective Studies; Severity of Illness Index; Solutions; Sucking Behavior; Sucrose [*therapeutic use]; Sweetening Agents [*therapeutic use]; Treatment Outcome; Vaccination [*adverse effects]

MeSH check words

Humans; Infant

Correspondence Address

School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA. [email protected]

Accession Number

PUBMED 18840204



Cochrane Group Code


Publication Type

Journal Article; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



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