Analgesic effects of breast-feeding or pacifier use with maternal holding in term infants

Raylene M. Phillips, Caroline J Chantry, Michael P. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives. - First, to compare analgesic effects of breast-feeding versus pacifier use in newborn infants undergoing blood collection via heel sticks. Second, to compare analgesic effects of pacifier use with maternal holding versus nonmaternal holding. Design. - A prospective, randomized, controlled trial. Setting. - Normal newborn nursery at academic teaching hospital. Participants. - Full-term breast-feeding infants scheduled for routine newborn screening blood test via heel stick (n = 96). Interventions. - Infants randomized to 3 groups for analgesia: 1) breast-feeding, 2) pacifier use while held by mothers, 3) pacifier use while held by research assistants (nonmothers). Outcome measures. - Primary outcome was crying (percent of infants who cried during the procedure and mean percent of procedure time that infants cried). Secondary outcomes were physiologic measures. Results. - Fewer breast-feeding infants cried than infants using a pacifier while held by nonmothers both during the procedure (69% vs 100%, P < .01) and after the procedure (28% vs 60%, P = .03). Those infants crying during the procedure cried for less time if held by their mothers either breast-feeding (33%, P < .01) or using a pacifier (45%, P = .03) than those using a pacifier while being held by nonmothers (66%). Conclusion. - Breast-feeding is more analgesic than pacifier use with nonmaternal holding. Maternal holding with either breast-feeding or pacifier use is more analgesic than nonmaternal holding with pacifier use, suggesting that maternal holding itself has an analgesic effect. Breast-feeding and maternal holding should be considered as pain-control measures for the neonate during heel-stick procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Analgesia
  • Breast-feeding
  • Maternal holding
  • Newborn
  • Pacifier
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Analgesic effects of breast-feeding or pacifier use with maternal holding in term infants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this