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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Sucrose for analgesia in newborn infants undergoing painful procedures

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (97th percentile)


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697 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
Sucrose for analgesia in newborn infants undergoing painful procedures
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd001069.pub5
Pubmed ID

Bonnie Stevens, Janet Yamada, Arne Ohlsson, Sarah Haliburton, Allyson Shorkey


Administration of oral sucrose with and without non-nutritive sucking is the most frequently studied non-pharmacological intervention for procedural pain relief in neonates. To determine the efficacy, effect of dose, method of administration and safety of sucrose for relieving procedural pain in neonates as assessed by validated composite pain scores, physiological pain indicators (heart rate, respiratory rate, saturation of peripheral oxygen in the blood, transcutaneous oxygen and carbon dioxide (gas exchange measured across the skin - TcpO2, TcpCO2), near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), electroencephalogram (EEG), or behavioural pain indicators (cry duration, proportion of time crying, proportion of time facial actions (e.g. grimace) are present), or a combination of these and long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes. We used the standard methods of the Cochrane Neonatal. We performed electronic and manual literature searches in February 2016 for published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2016), MEDLINE (1950 to 2016), EMBASE (1980 to 2016), and CINAHL (1982 to 2016). We did not impose language restrictions. RCTs in which term or preterm neonates (postnatal age maximum of 28 days after reaching 40 weeks' postmenstrual age), or both, received sucrose for procedural pain. Control interventions included no treatment, water, glucose, breast milk, breastfeeding, local anaesthetic, pacifier, positioning/containing or acupuncture. Our main outcome measures were composite pain scores (including a combination of behavioural, physiological and contextual indicators). Secondary outcomes included separate physiological and behavioural pain indicators. We reported a mean difference (MD) or weighted MD (WMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using the fixed-effect model for continuous outcome measures. For categorical data we used risk ratio (RR) and risk difference. We assessed heterogeneity by the I(2) test. We assessed the risk of bias of included trials using the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool, and assessed the quality of the evidence using the GRADE system. Seventy-four studies enrolling 7049 infants were included. Results from only a few studies could be combined in meta-analyses and for most analyses the GRADE assessments indicated low- or moderate-quality evidence. There was high-quality evidence for the beneficial effect of sucrose (24%) with non-nutritive sucking (pacifier dipped in sucrose) or 0.5 mL of sucrose orally in preterm and term infants: Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) 30 s after heel lance WMD -1.70 (95% CI -2.13 to -1.26; I(2) = 0% (no heterogeneity); 3 studies, n = 278); PIPP 60 s after heel lance WMD -2.14 (95% CI -3.34 to -0.94; I(2) = 0% (no heterogeneity; 2 studies, n = 164). There was high-quality evidence for the use of 2 mL 24% sucrose prior to venipuncture: PIPP during venipuncture WMD -2.79 (95% CI -3.76 to -1.83; I(2) = 0% (no heterogeneity; 2 groups in 1 study, n = 213); and intramuscular injections: PIPP during intramuscular injection WMD -1.05 (95% CI -1.98 to -0.12; I(2) = 0% (2 groups in 1 study, n = 232). Evidence from studies that could not be included in RevMan-analyses supported these findings. Reported adverse effects were minor and similar in the sucrose and control groups. Sucrose is not effective in reducing pain from circumcision. The effectiveness of sucrose for reducing pain/stress from other interventions such as arterial puncture, subcutaneous injection, insertion of nasogastric or orogastric tubes, bladder catherization, eye examinations and echocardiography examinations are inconclusive. Most trials indicated some benefit of sucrose use but that the evidence for other painful procedures is of lower quality as it is based on few studies of small sample sizes. The effects of sucrose on long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes are unknown. Sucrose is effective for reducing procedural pain from single events such as heel lance, venipuncture and intramuscular injection in both preterm and term infants. No serious side effects or harms have been documented with this intervention. We could not identify an optimal dose due to inconsistency in effective sucrose dosage among studies. Further investigation of repeated administration of sucrose in neonates is needed. There is some moderate-quality evidence that sucrose in combination with other non-pharmacological interventions such as non-nutritive sucking is more effective than sucrose alone, but more research of this and sucrose in combination with pharmacological interventions is needed. Sucrose use in extremely preterm, unstable, ventilated (or a combination of these) neonates needs to be addressed. Additional research is needed to determine the minimally effective dose of sucrose during a single painful procedure and the effect of repeated sucrose administration on immediate (pain intensity) and long-term (neurodevelopmental) outcomes.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

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Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
France 1 <1%
South Africa 1 <1%
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Denmark 1 <1%
Spain 1 <1%
Unknown 692 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 108 15%
Student > Bachelor 96 14%
Researcher 61 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 57 8%
Student > Postgraduate 39 6%
Other 119 17%
Unknown 217 31%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 173 25%
Nursing and Health Professions 137 20%
Psychology 36 5%
Social Sciences 18 3%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 13 2%
Other 77 11%
Unknown 243 35%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 253. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 29 August 2023.
All research outputs
of 24,520,187 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,932 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 363,750 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 227 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 24,520,187 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,932 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.7. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 363,750 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 227 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.