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A little sugar IS good medicine for babies, study says

May 13, 2010 |  6:00 am

Mary Poppins was on to something: A spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down.

PoppinsActually, it takes only between a few drops and half a teaspoon to help take the sting out of immunizations, according to an analysis published online Thursday in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Researchers from Canada, Australia and Brazil looked at 14 studies that compared the analgesic effects of sucrose (aka table sugar), glucose (the less-sweet component of sucrose) and water in infants who received shots. In 13 of the studies, a little something sweet seemed to help the babies, who were all between 1 and 12 months old.

Pooling the results of those studies, the researchers calculated that administration of either sucrose or glucose reduced crying time by 12 seconds. Sweeteners also made babies cry less often.

The researchers weren’t able to determine an optimal dose of sugar because the studies used different volumes, concentrations and types of sweeteners.None of the studies reported any adverse effects from the sugars.

Scientists had previously shown that sweet solutions relieve pain in newborns. Now pediatricians should extend the practice to babies up to 1 year of age, the researchers said.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: It actually takes less than a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Credit: Joan Marcus/Disney/CML

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