Canadian researchers are reporting that contact with the
mother's skin may enable premature babies to tolerate pain. Researchers at the
McGill University School of Nursing in Montreal also said that cuddling a
preemie may aid in faster recovery from pain caused by needles.
The study involved 61 premature babies born between 28
and 31 weeks of gestation. Half of the infants were assigned to receive
"kangaroo mother care" wherein they were held tightly against the
mother's skin, while the other half received usual care in incubators.
The researchers calculated pain responses by using the
Premature Infant Pain Profile. This profile keeps tabs on grimacing, maximum
heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels.
"The pain response in very preterm neonates appears
to be reduced by skin-to-skin maternal contact," the researchers reported,
adding that cuddled babies recovered in 90 seconds from painful procedures as
opposed to the 180 seconds it took for incubator babies.
The study appears in the latest issue of the journal
BioMed Central Pediatrics.