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Sweet solution taste to ease injection needle pain in children aged one to 16 years

Harrison D, Yamada J, Adams-Webber T, Ohlsson A, Beyene J, Stevens B
Published Online: 
5 October 2011

Small amounts of sweet tasting sugar water solutions given in the mouth can effectively reduce pain in babies under one year of age during painful events such as needles and blood tests. This review was performed to see if the same pain-reducing effects occurred in children older than one year of age, and up to 16 years of age. We examined all published studies looking at sweet solutions for painful procedures. This did not include studies looking at breast milk or formula, as milk is not sweet enough to have the same pain-reducing effects. In the younger children (one to four years), there were only two studies and they reported opposite results; one study showed sugar water (sucrose) reduced pain during injections and the other study showed it was not effective. For older children, there were two studies, and neither showed that sweet taste helped to reduce pain. More high quality research involving larger sample sizes of children is needed to see if giving sucrose is effective in toddlers and pre-school children.