Is it better to comfort an infant in pain or allow them to cry? In part II of this series, Tracy presents recent research findings in support of one camp. If you missed part I read it here for some background before reading on!
Researchers and pediatricians are becoming more interested in pain in infants, because research findings are now available to support at least two of the ideas that parents have suspected for a long time: infants have the ability to feel pain, and there may be long-term consequences for infants who experience chronic or intense pain. As a result of this new body of research, most healthcare providers agree that it is better to prevent or treat pain in infants whenever possible.
Unfortunately, if your infant is suffering from acid reflux, complete prevention of pain may not always be possible, even with medication, positioning, and smaller meals. If this is the case, then old fashioned comforting may still be needed, even in the middle of the night. The good news is that there is now research out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine which demonstrates just how effective parents can be at comforting an infant in pain.
In their study, the researchers from Pittsburgh observed two groups of infants who received multiple immunization injections. In one group, before the infants received the shots, the infants were given a bottle with sugar water to suck 2 minutes before the injections. Infants were then allowed to continue to suck on a bottle or pacifier during and after the injection. The infants in this group were also held close to their parents while they received their injections and continued being held by their parents for six minutes afterwards. In the other group (the control group), the infants were placed on a table and received their injections with no comfort from the parents during the injections.
The results of this experiment may come as no surprise to many of you; the researchers found a significant difference between the total crying time of the infants who were comforted by their parents during their injections and those who did not receive comfort. In fact, the cry time for the infants who did not receive comfort from their parents was three times longer than the cry time of infants who received comfort from their parents.
We all share the responsibility to reduce an infant's pain whenever possible. The research shows we can make a difference. Just remember that you have to take care of yourself at the same time as you are caring for your baby, and other adults may need to be brought in to provide comfort to your infant in the middle of night so you can get the rest you need.
Published On: October 29, 2008