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Keywords:

  • Analgesia;
  • Expressed breast milk;
  • Pain;
  • Preterm infants;
  • Randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Aim

To determine whether expressed breast milk (milk) reduces procedural pain associated with heel lancing in preterm neonates.

Methods

In this placebo-controlled trial, preterm neonates received 5 mL of distilled water as placebo (water, n = 44), 25% glucose water (glucose, n = 39) or milk (n = 40). Heel lancing was performed 2 min later. The primary outcome was the duration of first cry after lancing.

Results

Participants had similar baseline demographic and clinical characteristics. There was a significant difference in the median duration of first cry among the groups: water = 70.5 sec [interquartile range (IQR) = 5.5–104.5]; glucose = 2.0 sec (IQR = 0.0–45.0); milk = 29.5 sec (IQR = 0.0–65.0). Specifically, the duration of first cry was significantly shorter in the glucose group compared with the water group (Bonferroni adjustment, p = 0.011). Pain scores were significantly lower in the glucose and milk groups compared with the water group 1, 2 and 3 min after heel lancing (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Although milk did not significantly reduce crying time, our finding that pain scores were significantly lower in the milk group suggests that milk may reduce pain associated with heel lancing in preterm neonates.