The purpose of this trial was to investigate whether breast milk (either breastfed or bottle-fed) has a better analgesic effect than sucrose in newborns born at a postmenstrual age between 32 and 37 weeks.
We conducted a randomized controlled trial at a secondary care neonatal unit in the Netherlands on 71 preterm neonates (postmenstrual age at birth 32–37 weeks), undergoing heel lance with an automated piercing device. Newborns were randomly assigned to breast milk (either breastfed or bottle-fed) administered during heel lance or oral sucrose administered before heel lance. We assessed the Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) score (range, 0–21) to investigate whether there was a difference in pain score between neonates receiving breast milk and those receiving sucrose solution.
There was no significant difference in mean PIPP score between neonates receiving breast milk (6.1) and those receiving sucrose (5.5), with a mean difference of 0.6 (95% confidence interval −1.6 to 2.8; P = .58).
From this study, it cannot be concluded that breast milk has a better analgesic effect than sucrose in late preterm infants. From the results, it follows with 95% confidence that the analgesic effect of breast milk is not >1.6 points better and not > 2.8 points worse on the PIPP scale (SD 3.7) than the analgesic effect of sucrose in late preterm infants.