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Babies in pain

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 27 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1444
  1. Douglas Carnall (dcarnall{at}
  1. BMJ

    Assessment of neonatal pain is difficult, yet its control is important because, untreated, it has both short term and long term negative effects. This week a randomised controlled trial adds further weight to the evidence that a dummy and a sweet solution are both good treatments for pain after painful interventions in infants. This evidence for this has been building over the decade, and it's a good example of the kind of knowledge that parents and healthcare professionals ought to know about.

    A quick search on Google ( brings up the impressive (“Our mission is to provide the best children's health information on the World Wide Web”), which scores well on being explicit about its sources, with a large editorial team of doctors. The information on pain is of reasonable quality (, but there are the usual problems: the general discussion cannot specifically address the question the browser arrives with, nor does it link to further sources of information. Bridging the gap between consumer and medical information is a site run by an eminent paediatric nurse (, who publishes, among other things, practical instructions for making a sucrose solution—1 teaspoon of sucrose in 4 teaspoons of water makes a 24% solution.

    At Islamic Voice ( there's a reminder that the prophet has long recommended placing a date in the mouth of male infants about to be circumcised, although BMJ readers have known this since 1995 (

    At the other end of the spectrum, just about as specialised as it is possible to be, is the Paediatric Pain Letter, downloadable in full text as a series of PDFs of around 150 kb at

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