Pretermers bounce back from pain with a cuddle

Apr 24, 2008

Research published today in the open access journal BMC Pediatrics suggests that very preterm babies, born between 28 and 31 weeks, could benefit from skin-to-skin cuddling with their mother before and during painful procedures such as a heel lance.

Celeste Johnston of McGill University, Montreal, Canada and colleagues have already shown that skin-to-skin contact, known as kangaroo mother care (KMC) helps babies born at 32 to 36 weeks to recover from pain. They hoped to determine whether KMC could reduce pain and aid recovery in even younger preterm babies born at 28 to 31 weeks. It was previously thought that such young babies were not developed enough to benefit from comfort strategies.

They carried out a randomized crossover trial to see whether such babies could bounce back from pain following a heel lance blood test, which involves pricking the baby’s heel to obtain a blood sample. The team asked mothers to hold their babies for 15 minutes prior to and throughout a heel lance procedure. On another occasion the same babies in the trial were treated as normal and simply swaddled in the prone position in the incubator before and after the procedure.

The team was able to assess the babies' pain based on the Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP), which takes into account facial expressions, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. They measured the PIPP just before the heel lance and at 30-second intervals during and after the procedure.

They found that PIPP scores at 90 seconds after the lance procedure were much lower in the KMC babies than in those without skin-to-skin contact. The facial expression of pain was shown less than half the time in the babies treated with KMC.

Babies receiving KMC also recovered from the pain within a couple of minutes, whereas the incubator babies were still suffering at more than three minutes. This delay could make all the difference to the health of a very preterm baby - born before 32 weeks - who needs almost constant incubator care.

"The pain response in very preterm neonates appears to be reduced by skin-to-skin maternal contact," says Johnston, "This response is not as powerful as it is in older preterm babies, but the shorter recovery time using KMC is important in helping maintain the baby's health." Johnston also points out that the approach could also have benefits for the mother whose parental role diminishes while her baby is in intensive care.

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pain Management for Preemies

Jul 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A UConn nursing professor is studying a way of holding babies that can reduce pain for preemies.

Recommended for you

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

4 hours ago

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

14 hours ago

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

New medical device to make the mines safer

Nov 21, 2014

Dehydration can be a serious health issue for Australia's mining industry, but a new product to be developed with input from Flinders University's Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) is set to more effectively ...

US family gets $6.75 million in Botox case

Nov 20, 2014

A New York couple who said Botox treatment of their son's cerebral palsy left him with life-threatening complications and sued its manufacturer won a $6.75 million verdict from a federal jury on Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.