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Oral sucrose did not significantly affect the neural activity in sensory pain circuits in the brain or spinal cord of 44 infants undergoing heel lances, and therefore might not be an effective analgesic.

International guidelines issued in 2001 called for the administration of oral sucrose to relieve procedural pain in neonates. The recommendations were based on studies showing that sucrose reduced pain in premature and term infants. Pain typically was measured using behavioral and physiological observations.

The authors of this study noted that such observations may not be an accurate measure of pain. They designed a randomized double-blind controlled trial of sucrose in healthy term infants and used specific nociceptive brain activity as a measure of pain.

Half of the infants received a sucrose solution and half received sterile water two minutes before undergoing a heel...

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