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Breastfeed Med. 2018 Jun;13(5):327-334. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2017.0226. Epub 2018 May 7.

The Analgesic Effects of Maternal Milk Odor on Newborns: A Meta-Analysis.

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Department of Nursing, The First Affiliated Hospital, Jinan University , Guangzhou, China .



The objective of this study was to evaluate the analgesic effects of maternal milk odor on newborns.


We searched the literature in PubMed, MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and collected all the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the effects of maternal milk odor versus scentless or other odors on procedural pain in newborns. The quality of included studies was assessed by the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias tool. A meta-analysis was undertaken with the Review Manager 5.3 software and Stata version 11.0. Subgroup comparisons were prespecified according to the types of control groups.


Eight RCTs included a total of 453 participants. The results of meta-analysis showed that compared with the scentless group, the maternal milk odor group had lower pain scores during blood sampling (standardized mean difference, -0.81; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], -1.18 to -0.44; pā€‰<ā€‰0.001) and shorter crying time afterward (mean difference, -8.10; 95% CI, -15.46 to 0.73; pā€‰=ā€‰0.03). The maternal milk odor group had lower heart rate variability and oxygen saturation variability during and after a procedure, compared with both the scentless group and the vanilla group. However, no significant difference was identified in the mean heart rate and mean oxygen saturation in terms of the maternal milk odor group compared with amniotic fluid odor or mother's scent. The maternal milk odor group versus the formula milk odor group had shorter crying duration and lower levels of salivary cortisol after sampling.


Maternal milk odor appears to play an analgesic role in newborns. However, more high-quality studies are needed to confirm and quantitate the effect.


maternal milk odor; meta-analysis; newborns

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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