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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Sugar helps babies when being immunised

12th December 2012

Sugar could be an important ingredient in helping comfort babies who are having immunisations.


A new study has suggested that a few drops of sugar can help infants cope with having essential jabs.

The conclusion comes from a Cochrane review of 14 studies involving more than 1,500 infants going for routine childhood immunisations or a heel-prick blood test.

They found that babies which were given a sugary solution as they were about to receive an injection cried less than those who were given water.

However, the team say that more research is needed to establish just how much benefit sugar has in this context and whether it simply pacifies a baby or actually helps to relieve pain as well.

The Cochrane review was led by Dr Manal Kassab of the Jordan University of Science and Technology who said that while giving sugar to babies seems to reduce crying, his team was unable to confidently say that sugary solutions cut needle pain.

However, Dr Kassab added: “These results do look promising.”

In the UK, sugar solutions are not routinely used with doctors preferring that mothers hold and comfort their offspring while they have their immunisation. Breastfeeding is also an option, while with older children it is often best to distract them when having an immunisation.

Dr David Elliman of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health added: “What we do know is that using a shorter needle tends to be more painful, even though this might seem counterintuitive. That’s because the injections need to go into the muscle.”


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