How did Be Sweet to Babies research get started?
The Be Sweet to Babies program of research started after I had been caring for sick babies in the NICU for many years and becoming more frustrated with the lack of pain management during painful procedures. I was assisting to place a difficult intravenous (IV) line in a baby with chronic lung disease, who cried so much during the procedure, he turned blue, then stopped breathing. We had to resuscitate him, then we still had to place his IV. This situation would not happen today, due to our discoveries about reducing pain during procedures.
What discoveries have you made?
I discovered that sugar water (sucrose) reduced pain in sick babies in the NICU and that this analgesic effect persists throughout prolonged hospitalizations. I also looked at all the research of sucrose and glucose, and showed that both of these solutions effectively reduce pain in infants up to around 6 months of age.
How has your research changed clinical practice today?
Sucrose has become standard of care for pain reduction during painful procedures in most NICU settings in Canada and Australia and many other countries.
What other studies do you lead?
Although we now know that sucrose reduces pain in newborn and young infants, we do not know if it works in toddlers. I am leading studies to see if sucrose reduces pain during early childhood immunization and in hospitalized toddlers during venipuncture.
What do you want parents to know about research at CHEO?
CHEO researchers work hard at finding ways to improve outcomes in sick children and best ways to keep children fit and healthy. Reducing pain, improving ways to help sick babies breathe, educating families and children about reducing asthma severity, and best ways to measure nausea in children with cancer are just a few of the 100’s of high quality research studies in process by CHEO researchers.