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AACN Clin Issues. 2005 Jul-Sep;16(3):373-87.

Skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo Care) analgesia for preterm infant heel stick.

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FP Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4904, and the Pediatric Critical Care Center, Children's Hospital of New Jersey, Newark, USA.


The purpose of the study was to compare a heel stick conducted during Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin contact) with the mother to a heel stick in a warmer in reducing premature infant physiologic and behavioral pain responses. Twenty-four premature infants in a university-based neonatal intensive care unit were recruited and randomized to 2 sequences: sequence A group received 3 hours of Kangaroo Care (with a heel stick in Kangaroo Care) followed by 3 hours in a warmer (with a heel stick in the warmer). Sequence B group had warmer care and a heel stick (in the warmer) before Kangaroo Care and a heel stick (in Kangaroo Care). Heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, crying time, and behavioral state were measured before, during, and after heel stick. Repeated measures ANOVA and Mann Whitney U statistics were performed. Heart rate and length of crying in response to pain were significantly reduced during Kangaroo Care and the Kangaroo Care heel stick as compared to when infants were in the warmer and had a heel stick in the warmer. Three infants did not cry at all during the Kangaroo Care heel stick; infants slept more during Kangaroo Care than in the warmer. Kangaroo Care positioning before and during heel stick is a simple and inexpensive analgesic intervention to ameliorate pain in stable premature infants.

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