Objective: To examine the effects of oral sucrose on procedural pain, and on biochemical markers of adenosine triphosphate utilization and oxidative stress in preterm neonates with mild to moderate respiratory distress.
Study design: Preterm neonates with a clinically required heel lance that met study criteria (n = 49) were randomized into three groups: (1) control (n = 24), (2) heel lance treated with placebo and non-nutritive sucking (n = 15) and (3) heel lance treated with sucrose and non-nutritive sucking (n = 10). Plasma markers of adenosine triphosphate degradation (hypoxanthine, xanthine and uric acid) and oxidative stress (allantoin) were measured before and after the heel lance. Pain was measured using the Premature Infant Pain Profile. Data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance, chi-square and one-way analysis of variance.
Results: We found that in preterm neonates who were intubated and/or were receiving ⩾30% FiO2, a single dose of oral sucrose given before a heel lance significantly increased markers of adenosine triphosphate use.
Conclusion: We found that oral sucrose enhanced adenosine triphosphate use in neonates who were intubated and/or were receiving ⩾30% FiO2. Although oral sucrose decreased pain scores, our data suggest that it also increased energy use as evidenced by increased plasma markers of adenosine triphosphate utilization. These effects of sucrose, specifically the fructose component, on adenosine triphosphate metabolism warrant further investigation.
Keywords: Anesthesia/pain; critical care/emergency medicine; nursing.