Art, Music, DanceInfants

CAM for procedural pain

 It’s the discomfort experienced by patients during medical procedures required to give drugs or conduct tests (eg, heel stick, circumcision, or inserting a needle in a blood vessel).

The evidence for several CAM options in infants was reviewed by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in California.

Music therapy

  • May hold promise in reducing pain among infants receiving heel sticks based on 2 studies.
  • Mixed support for using music for circumcision pain.

Kangaroo Care: The mother holds the child skin-to-skin, covered with her blouse.

  • Appears safe.
  • Only 2 studies are available, but the results were compromised by the discomfort of some mothers with the procedures and other effects such as concurrent stroking or verbalization.

Familiar pleasant smell (ie, maternal breast milk)

  • Low-risk, low-cost intervention
  • Some evidence of benefit, but in neither of 2 studies were the researchers blinded to the scent given.


  • Some positive preliminary evidence, but the researchers weren’t blinded to the treatment.

Multisensory stimulation

  • Again, no effort to blind the researchers.

The bottom line?
The reviewers concluded, “The available evidence suggests that there are a number of potentially effective CAM interventions that can safely alleviate the pain and distress among preterm and full-term infants undergoing painful medical procedures.”

“For minor procedures,” they continue, “trials are needed to further assess the efficacy of such methods as kangaroo care, swaddling, olfactory stimulation, and music-based interventions… against standard pharmacological analgesics in both healthy and preterm/sick infants.”

2/10/09 20:27 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.