Swaddling and Shushing Help Soothe Babies After Vaccinations | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Swaddling and Shushing Help Soothe Babies After Vaccinations

Play associated audio

Imagine you're a happy baby, off with your folks to visit the doctor.

"They're probably thinking, 'Oh hi everybody, hi!' and suddenly — boom! A shot," says John Harrington, a pediatrician in Norfolk, Va.

Who wouldn't scream at that?

But Harrington says that the same techniques used to soothe a fussy baby can also help an infant overcome the pain of vaccinations.

"It probably generates more pain than you or I have when we get a shot," says Harrington, a researcher at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Va., because infants are so much smaller.

Harrington wanted to find a way to ease the pain and stress of a shot. So he studied 230 infants, who were two months old and four months old. He divided them into four groups. Two groups got water before a vaccination, while the other two got a sugar solution, a sort of liquid lollipop known to distract infants from pain. After the shot, half the babies got typical comfort care from their parents. The others received the "5 S's".

That's a method that Harvey Karp, a Los Angeles-based pediatrician, developed about a decade ago to calm a screeching infant. The technique involves swaddling the baby, putting the baby on her stomach, gently swinging her, shushing into her ear, and offering a pacifier to suck on.

The babies who received the "5 S's" physical intervention stopped crying much sooner than the infants who received comfort care from their parents. And their pain scores, as measured by flailing arms and facial grimaces, were also significantly less, says Harrington. The "5 S's" group did much better than the comfort care group, whether they got sugar water or not.

The results were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Karp says the method works because it simulates the security of the womb. "In the womb, there's a symphony of sensations, constant jiggling, constant whooshing, which is the sound of the blood flow through the arteries, and constant touching against the velvet walls of the womb."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Louis C.K. Reflects On 'Louie,' Loss, Love And Life

C.K. won an Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for an episode on his FX show Louie. In 2011, C.K. told Fresh Air about making his comedy special and his relationship with other comedians.
NPR

How Foster Farms Is Solving The Case Of The Mystery Salmonella

Foster Farms has been accused of poisoning its customers with salmonella bacteria. But in recent months, the company has become a leader in the poultry industry's fight against the foodborne pathogen.
NPR

Former Border Protection Insider Alleges Corruption, Distortion In Agency

James Tomsheck was pushed out of his job as internal affairs chief for Customs and Border Protection in June. He warns the agency has become a paramilitary organization with little accountability.
NPR

Science Crowns Mozzarella The King Of Pizza Cheese

Why do some cheeses melt and caramelize better than others? Researchers used high-tech cameras and special software to figure it out.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.