Pain-reducing properties of sucrose in human newborns

Chem Senses. 1995 Feb;20(1):29-35. doi: 10.1093/chemse/20.1.29.


To assess the characteristics of sucrose as a pain-reducing substance, crying in 72 newborn humans during and after blood collection via heel prick was determined. In the first study infants drank 2 ml of water or 2 ml of a 0.17-0.34- or 0.51-M sucrose solution 1 min prior to blood collection. In the second experiment, a delay of 30, 60, 90, 120 or 240 s was imposed between sucrose intake and the initiation of blood collection. The dose-response function for concentration was flat. The most effective time delay was 120 s. The effectiveness of the 2-min interval accords with previous findings of endogenous opioid release caused by sucrose taste. The flat dose-response function extends findings in rats and humans that the calming and pain-reducing effects of sucrose are not influenced by either concentration or volume, suggesting that the transduction from gustatory afferent to opioid-mediated efferent is of an on-off nature and not graded.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Blood Specimen Collection
  • Crying / physiology
  • Endorphins / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nociceptors / drug effects
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Rats
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Endorphins
  • Sucrose