Suckling- and sucrose-induced analgesia in human newborns

Pain. 1999 Dec;83(3):611-623. doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00166-9.


This experiment had three goals: 1. To identify the basis of sucking-induced analgesia in healthy, term, newborn humans undergoing the painful, routine, procedure of heel lance and blood collection. 2. To evaluate how taste-induced and sucking-induced analgesias combine to combat pain. 3. To determine whether facial grimacing was an accurate index of diminished pain, or whether it was linked to tissue trauma. We report that: 1. Sucking an unflavored pacifier was analgesic when and only when suck rate exceeded 30 sucks/min. 2. The combination of sucrose and nonnutritive sucking was remarkably analgesic; we saw no behavioral indication in nine of the ten infants that the heel lance had even occurred. 3. Grimacing was reduced to almost naught by procedures that essentially eliminated crying and markedly reduced heart rate during the blood harvesting procedure.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Crying*
  • Dietary Sucrose / therapeutic use*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heel / injuries
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Phlebotomy / methods
  • Sucking Behavior*
  • Videotape Recording


  • Dietary Sucrose