Stroking Babies Gently Can Relieve Them Of Pain: Study

Stroking Babies Gently Can Relieve Them Of Pain: Study

Dec. 19, 2018, 9:02 a.m.

Stroking or cuddling babies gently not only makes them feel fuzzy and warm, but it turns out, the act might have some pain relieving effect. According to a study, as quoted in a report in BBC, stroking a baby can help in curbing activities in the brain which are often associated with painful experiences.

The study, conducted by the University of Oxford and Liverpool John Moores University, examined the brain activities of around 32 babies while they got their blood tests done. It was deduced that those who were stroked before the test showed almost 40 per cent less pain activity in their brain.

Rebeccah Slater, an author of the study, said, “Touch seems to have analgesic potential without the risk of side-effects. The optimal pain-reducing stroking speed, the study found out, was about 3cm (1in) per second. And that it seems the optimal velocity with which parents generally stroke their babies.” Continued 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”.

When stroked at this speed, a class of sensory neurons in the skin called C-tactile afferents, are activated. They have been associated with reducing pain in adults in the past.

“There was evidence to suggest that C-tactile afferents can be activated in babies and that slow, gentle touch can evoke changes in brain activity in infants,” Professor Slater said. “Previous work has shown that touch may increase parental bonding, decrease stress for both the parents and the baby, and reduce the length of hospital stay,” Slater added.

Courtesy: BBC

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