Effects of breastfeeding on pain relief in full-term newborns

Leite AM, Linhares MB, Lander J, Castral TC, dos Santos CB, Silvan Scochi CG.
Clin J Pain. 2009 Nov-Dec;25(9):827-32.


Breastfeeding may be useful for relieving procedural pain experienced by neonates. Researchers have compared breastfeeding against other pain relieving approaches in several studies, presenting marked methodologic heterogeneity.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effectiveness of breastfeeding in reducing pain in newborns undergoing blood collection for newborn screening. METHOD: The sample of this randomized clinical trial study consisted of 60 full-term newborns: 31 in the experimental group and 29 in the control group. The experimental group was breastfed 5 minutes before, during, and for 5 minutes after the blood collection procedure. Neonates in the control group were held in mothers’ arms but not fed or given a soother. The duration of breastfeeding was prolonged in comparison to previous studies.

RESULTS: The primary outcomes were Neonatal Facial Actions (Neonatal Facial Activity Coding System-upper face), sleep-wake state. Heart rate was considered as an index of arousal. Sucking frequency was only evaluated in the experimental group. Compared with the control group, the experimental group had significantly lower, Neonatal Facial Activity Coding System and sleep-wake state scores and heart rates changes. In the experimental group sucking frequency was highest during the first 5 minutes of breastfeeding before the procedure.

DISCUSSION: This study innovates from earlier studies in 4 respects: the different phases of the procedure were evaluated separately; the breastfeeding intervention covered the period from 5 minutes before the blood collection until the end of recovery; sleep-wake state was fully assessed (not merely crying) and the sucking frequency in the experimental group was assessed during the procedure. The conclusion was that breastfeeding was effective in reducing pain caused by blood collection for newborn screening.


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