Breastfeeding During A Painful Procedure Reduces The Response To Pain

Breastfeeding during a painful procedure reduces the response to pain in newborn infants, finds a study in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers identified 180 healthy newborn infants undergoing venepuncture (a common procedure in which a vein is pierced to withdraw blood). During the procedure, infants were either breastfed, held in their mother's arms without breastfeeding, given 1ml of sterile water as placebo, or given 1ml of glucose solution followed by a pacifier.

Pain related behavior was evaluated using recognized pain rating scales, and video recordings of the procedure were assessed by two observers blinded to the purpose of the study.

Pain scores varied significantly among the groups. Of 44 infants in the breastfeeding group, 16 showed no indication at all that the venepuncture and blood sampling had even occurred. No reduction in pain response was seen in infants who were simply held in their mother's arms, possibly because these infants were dressed and did not have skin to skin contact with their mothers, say the authors.

"Our findings are clinically important as they show that natural protective mechanisms may safely and non-invasively be activated by breastfeeding during medical procedures," they conclude.


recommended for you