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5 S's can help ease pain of infant vaccines

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Watching your baby get a vaccine can be painful for parents, too.

But a new study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, has found a way to ease the pain of vaccines for infants, The New York Times reported.

Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician who wrote The Happiest Baby on the Block, introduced a method known as the five S’s, which are five ways to reduce vaccine pain: swaddle the baby in a blanket, put baby on her side or stomach (in your arms), sway with the baby, have the baby suck on a pacifier and make shushing noises.

Karp said this method can also be used to calm a fussy or colicky baby because it mimics sensations the baby knew in the womb.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of the King Daughter’s in Norfolk, Va., had medical residents use this method on infants receiving their 2-month and 4-month vaccines.

The researchers set up four groups involving 230 babies. Some babies were given plain water before the shot, and some were given sugar water, as it is thought sugar water also reduces pain in infants. These two groups of infants were comforted by a parent.

In the other two groups, infants got either plain or sugar water and were comforted by a resident who was trained in the five S’s.

An observer watched for signs of pain – like high-pitched screaming, grimacing and whimpering – and rated the levels of pain.

The researchers concluded that the babies who were comforted by a resident with the five S’s had the lowest pain levels – even if they were given plain water.

“I’ll be honest, I was a nonbeliever; that’s why I did this study,” said study leader Dr. John Harrington in the Times. “But when you see it happen where you’ve got this child who is crying and flailing, and you do the swaddle and you get them in the sideline position ,and you’re doing the shushing in their ear, and they kind of go into a quick trance, it really does seem like a calming reflex has been triggered“And the parents would go, ‘Wow, show me how to do that.’ ”

Click here to read more on this study from the New York Times.