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How Much Evidence Do You Need to Use Sugar Solutions to Decrease Procedural Pain in Neonates? :

December 21, 2016

The use of a sugar solution to reduce pain and discomfort when doing procedures on neonates is not a new concept

The use of a sugar solution to reduce pain and discomfort when doing procedures on neonates is not a new concept. In fact studies have been ongoing for years demonstrating the effectiveness of this relatively easy method of analgesia, and yet we continue to see placebo controlled studies performed as if the evidence is not strong enough yet to really believe in this method.  

Fortunately Harrison et al. (10.1542/peds.2016-0955) have put together a systematic review and meta-analysis on this topic to show the strength of sugar solutions compared to placebo.  The authors identified 148 trials with placebo or no-treatment arms. 29 trials showed a statistically significant decrease in crying time and 50 trials showed improvement in pain scores.  So how much more evidence do you need to use sugar solutions? 

Hopefully this meta-analysis will be all you need going forward and that is sweet news to babies in your practice undergoing procedures when it comes to helping them with pain relief using this simple multiple-study tested method.  Congrats and thanks to the authors for putting all the studies together on sugar solutions for infant analgesia and once and for all showing us why we really don’t need further studies to convince us of their utility.

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