When I arrived at the hospital with my ten-day-old infant, I was
surprised to see the nurses squeezing a liquid from a small plastic tube
into his mouth, without my informed consent. I did question and they
stated that it was to help with the pain of the procedures they were
Now, of course, I don’t want my
son to experience any more pain than he might already be going through,
but, I also had a terrible feeling, deep down, that I shouldn’t be
Unfortunately, being a brand new
mother and in a state of complete shock to be in the hospital in the
first place, it took me several days, over the course of which he
received a dose about every two hours, before I finally researched it
and requested for them to stop.
There are a few reasons why
health professionals may try to give or recommend that you give your
infant sugar water. The three most common are:
Pain Relief during invasive
procedures such as circumcision, immunizations and blood withdrawals.
Hypoglycemia/Low Blood Sugar, especially in breastfed babies.
During my research, I came
across a recent study which debunked the myth of using sugar water as an
analgesic for infants. It stated that all previous studies were based on
the fact that the babies given sugar water do not grimace, thus, giving
the appearance of not feeling as much pain as the babies that were given
plain water. In this study, the activity measured in the brain and
spinal cords of both groups of babies was the exactly the same.
The study also went on to
mention that the long-term effects of giving sugar water to infants are
unknown and it’s possible that it may even cause neurological damage.
Here are some natural ways of easing your baby’s pain:
Non Nutritive Sucking (NNS)
As for using it for
Hypoglycemia, The American Academy of Pediatrics states the following
with regard to Routine Evaluation of Glucose in Newborns:
“… no study has shown that
treatment of a transient low blood glucose level offers a better
short-term or long-term outcome than the outcome resulting with no
treatment. … Furthermore, there is no evidence that asymptomatic
hypoglycemic infants will benefit from treatment.”
This article is one of many
which can back up that again, breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact are
far more superior when it comes to keeping blood sugar in newborns
Apparently, sugar water can work
to help with constipation; however, there are additional ways of taking
care of this without any risks including:
Laying baby on his/her back and
moving the legs in a cycling motion gently puts pressure on the
intestine and can stimulate a bowel movement.
Massaging baby’s tummy by using
lotion/oil to rub the tummy in clockwise circular motions from the naval
A warm bath can help to relax
baby and relieve some of the tension in the bowels.
It was, and probably still is to
many health professionals, believed that sugar water is a good “natural”
remedy which poses no negative adverse effects to babies.
While there have been no other
studies that truly delve into this, let’s take a look at some pretty
well known facts about sugar and how it can affect our bodies:
Can cause Diabetes.
Has been linked to Heart Disease.
Causes Inflammation in the body.
Promotes Cell Glycation.
Feeds Cancer Cells.
Can suppress the Immune System by 40%-50% for up to 5 hours.
Feeds the bad bacteria in your gut flora.
Causes behavioral problems in children.
Here are some ways that sugar
water can affect infants specifically:
Increased risk of Bilirubin (Jaundice).
Excess weight loss.
Longer hospital stay.
May introduce contaminants or allergens, especially due to the use of GMO sugar.
Can cause Thrush in infants and spread it to their mother’s during breastfeeding.
We need to remember that
newborns weigh about 5% what an adult does and have little to no gut
flora, along with immature immune and neurological systems. They can be
easily influenced by anything and everything that is introduced to them
in those very important early days, no matter how small the amount
they’re exposed to.
Although the risks and the
chances of said risks are currently unknown, it is still a Russian
Roulette game that is easy not to play in the first place, seeing as how
there are plenty of other options available to choose from.
If I could do it all over again,
I would immediately kindly decline the sugar water, and, if they tried
to convince me of its magical pain relieving properties, I would simply
smile, say that I understand, still choose not to consent, and then
offer any one, or a combination, of the above-mentioned methods instead.
Please note: There may be rare
situations which may warrant the recommended use of sugar water
intravenously in order to prevent further complications. This article is
not intended to disregard such circumstances. Rather, it is meant to
provide awareness of a procedure that is not always necessary and to
offer additional alternatives.
Was your baby given sugar water
in the hospital? Or was it recommended by another health professional?
Did you notice anything different in your baby or your breastfeeding
Crystal Martinez is a stay-at-home mom and wife.