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Neuro-physiology : Caress relieves the pain of babies

Some parents may have suspected: Slow Stroke affects babies not only soothing, but also analgesic. The rhythmic touches have apparently medical potential without the risk of side effects, according to British researchers, according to a study in the journal "Current Biology". The effect, however, depends on the speed of a caress.

In the study, the Team examined the children's doctor Rebeccah Slater of the University of Oxford the impact of a caress to more than 60 newborns. The researchers examined the withdrawal response of the babies a few days old in the case of a stitch in the heel for blood. During the medically necessary procedure, they derived the brain activity of babies with the help of EEG (electroencephalogram). In children, the blood collection gently with a soft brush above the were cuddled up to the puncture, the brain activity through the pain significantly weaker than in the case of peers, where the stroke unit was.

The magic number: three-inches-per-second

Although warped in both groups a similar number of children during the Insertion, the face, the slow gestrei chelten babies showed this pain grimace but only about half as long as the other. The effect corresponds approximately to the of externally applied drugs, such as creams, patches or Sprays, emphasizing the Team of Slater.

In the case of children, very quickly – with 30 centimeters per second – were caressed, showed the effect. No effect had the Stroke on the Pulling of the foot. The reason for this could be that it was a Reflex.

The pain relief, the researchers explain, with a certain group of nerve fibers in the skin, the so-called afferent C-fibers. This would be activated at a stroking speed of about three inches per second. This was previously only available for adults known. It was unclear, however, whether this mechanism is developed in the course of life or in the newborn is created.

the Latter seems to be the case. "Parents caress their children intuitively with this optimum pace," says Slater. "If we are to understand the neurobiological basis of techniques such as baby massage, we can advise parents better, as they reassure their children."

touch, has diverse potential

"The study is legitimate," says the President of the society for pediatric and adolescent medicine, Ingeborg Krägeloh-Mann. "The researchers have demonstrated the positive effect of a caress on baby's first neuro-physiologically." Also, the mechanism of pain relief through a specific group of nerve fibers is quite plausible, emphasizes the neuro-paediatric specialist head of the University clinic for paediatric and youth medicine in Tübingen.

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The British researchers want to repeat the Experiment soon with premature babies, whose nervous system is not yet fully developed. "Previous studies have shown that contact to strengthen the connection between mother and child, reduce Stress, and stay in the hospital can be shortened," says Slater. Along with its pain-relieving effect of contact seems to have so much potential – without the side effects. (dpa, fsch)

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