Study: Sugar may not relieve infants' pain

September 3, 2010 2:03:24 PM PDT
It's been a long-standing thought that giving sugar to infants can help relieve pain after medical procedures such as injections.

However, new evidence published in the Lancet medical journal questions if the sweet solution is really making pain go away.

The study claims that the sugar only changes the baby's facial expressions giving the impression that pain has been relieved.

Fifty nine healthy newborns were pricked in their heel for a blood draw. Half were given the sugar solution and the other half were give just water. Doctors then recorded the brain and spinal cord responses. Both groups showed similar pain activity in the brain.

Researchers suggest the sugar might hinder facial expressions even though the pain is still there.

Critics are not yet ready to give up on sugar water. They say the study it too small to recommend significant changes to the practice.