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New video shows parents how to take the hurt out of newborns’ blood tests

Ottawa, Ontario, August 26, 2014 — Every newborn baby gets a heel prick in the first day or two of life to screen for congenital illnesses. This potentially life-saving blood test is painful to the babies – but an Ottawa-based research team is hoping more parents will use simple techniques to soothe the sting.

The “Be Sweet to Babies” team from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of Ottawa’s School of Nursing has released a must-see video for all parents-to-be and parents of newborns needing hospitalization.

The first-of-its-kind video shows three simple and effective options to minimize pain in newborn infants during procedures like blood work: 1) breastfeeding, 2) skin to skin care (also known as kangaroo care), and 3) giving small amounts of sugar water (sucrose or glucose).

“These techniques show how parents can make a big difference and participate in their newborn’s care,” says Dr. Denise Harrison. “As well as helping healthy newborns, this can really improve the quality of healthcare for sick babies who need a lot of tests.”

Dr. Harrison’s studies of newborn pain management practices in Canada and around the world show these three effective strategies are not often used, and too many infants receive no pain management during blood work.

As a result, Dr. Harrison and her Be Sweet to Babies team decided to create their own video on YouTube to teach parents how to use the three effective techniques to reduce their babies’ pain. Harrison and the CHEO audiovisual team has also produced the video in French and is in the process of producing it in other commonly spoken languages, with the hope that nearly all parents in Canada and beyond can use the video to help their baby during newborn screening.

By partnering with doctors, nurses, and lab technicians, parents can then advocate for the most appropriate pain management strategy for their babies during newborn screening or other painful procedures.

CHEO is home to Newborn Screening Ontario, a program which tests almost half the babies born in Canada by each year using one blood sample to detect 29 diseases, from phenylketonuria to cystic fibrosis.

The Be Sweet to Babies team also released a YouTube video in October 2013 demonstrating the best ways to reduce pain in older babies during their immunizations. This video has now had over 55,000 hits.

About the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)

CHEO is a pediatric health and research centre providing outstanding family-centred patient care, pioneering breakthrough research, and training the health care professionals of tomorrow.

CHEO works closely with the University of Ottawa as a teaching hospital and fosters groundbreaking research through the CHEO Research Institute. CHEO’s vision is to change young lives in our community, while our innovation changes young lives around the world.

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For more information, please contact:
Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist, CHEO
613-737-7600 x 3536
Cell: 613-769-5553

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