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Friday, 19 September 2008

Mary Poppins advocated a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, and it seems the fictitious nanny may have had a point.

A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down
Article in the Telegraph


"A paediatrician who has spent 16 years conducting research says that a few drops of sucrose on the tongue can ease the pain for babies undergoing injections.

The idea is used by many children's doctors but Dr Paul Heaton, 53, who works at Yeovil District Hospital, Somerset, is campaigning to see the practice extended beyond hospitals to clinics where children receive injections and blood tests.

He said: "The association of sweetness as making nasty things less nasty is a common practice in every day life.

"It did not start with Mary Poppins; historic texts refer to Jews being given honey before they were circumcised."

Dr Heaton said his research had found that once the babies tasted the solution, they cried less and recovered more quickly from the procedures.

"There is considerable evidence that young babies experience pain more easily and sharply than adults when they have commonly performed procedures, such as heel pricks and blood tests done to them.

"Their heart rate and blood pressure rise and very small babies can sometimes stop breathing."

Dr Heaton, who has addressed conferences in Iran, Australia and New Zealand and has had papers published worldwide, said: "About 10 years ago studies showed that sweet tasting substances reduce the response to pain in babies.

"They release natural substances which minimize the pain and enable quick and effective short-term relief. It has taken some time for this practice to be accepted in the medical community but it is now common practice in paediatric departments of hospitals both with inpatients and outpatients.

"However it is not common practice out in the community when babies have blood tests and immunizations.""

Let's hope this simple, safe, drug-free idea will soon be adopted more widely.

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