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Gently stroking babies 'provides pain relief'



 Baby being stroked

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Gently stroking a baby has activity in her brain associated with painful experiences, a study has found.

John Moores University, University of Oxford and Liverpool, monitored the brain activity of 32 babies while they had blood tests.

40% less pain activity in their brain.

Author Rebeccah Slater said: "Touch seems to have an analgesic potential without the risk of side-effects."

The optimal pain-reducing stroking speed was about 3cm (1

in) per second.

"Parents intuitively stroke their babies at this optimal velocity," said Prof Slater.

"If we can better understand the neurobiological underpinnings of techniques like infant massage, we can improve the advice we give to parents on how to comfort their babies."

The speed of stroking activates a class of sensory neurons in the Skin called C-tactile afferents, which have been shown to reduce pain in adults.

"There is evidence to suggest that C-tactile afferents can be activated in babies and that slow, mild touch can evoke brain activity in infants," said Prof Slater.

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Getty Images [19659016] Prof Slater said the study, published in Current Biology, could explain anecdotal evidence of the soothing power of touch-based practices as infant massage and kangaroo care reduce pain.

"Previous work has shown that the stress on both parents and the baby is decreasing," said Prof Slater.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive at the premature and sick baby charity Bliss welcomes the research.

"We already know that positive touch – such as skin-to-skin care – makes a real difference directly to babies in neonatal care and so helps parents to bond with their baby.

" This new research suggests that parental Oxford University to do more research on reducing pain in premature babies through the use of parental touch, from the new year.

"Many people do not have a baby's discomfort in their under-patient care."

"Anything that can reduce a baby's discomfort is a huge step forward in this underfunded area of ​​research."


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