Parents can be taught a simple physical intervention to reduce pain in infants undergoing routine immunisations, say US researchers.
Their study looked at using the physical ‘five S's' intervention – swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking – in 230 babies aged two to four months.
Infants were randomised to receive one of four interventions – a control of 2ml of water, 2ml of 24% oral sucrose, 2ml of water plus the five S's or 2ml of sucrose plus the five S's.
They found mean pain scores, as defined using the Riley Pain Score, in all groups were significantly less than the control, with scores of 4.46 in the control group, 3.95 in the sucrose group, 3.24 for the physical intervention group and 3.61 for the physical and sucrose intervention group.
Overall the mean pain scores were 1.2 points less for the physical intervention group, compared with the control group, and there were no significant differences between the physical group and the physical plus sucrose intervention group.
Study leader Dr John Harrington, paediatrician at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Virginia, said: ‘The five S's appear to be a viable non-pharmacologic option for clinics to implement when providing analgesia during vaccinations.'
‘This will require additional studies to see whether it is reproducible for other painful procedures and whether parents can be taught to perform the five S's reliably.'
Paediatrics 2012. Available online 16 April 2012