Baby's Smile May Be Misleading

Infants' facial expressions don't tell all: study
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2010 7:43 PM CDT
Babies may not always make facial expressions that represent their emotional state, a new study suggests.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A spoonful of sugar may not help the medicine go down after all. The theory that a dose of sucrose wards off pain for babies during medical procedures is being challenged by new research from a team of British doctors, who found that the infants still manifested a pain response in their brains, even if they didn't cry or frown. "When you give the sugar solution to babies they do look dreamy," said one of the researchers, but "most likely it is a distraction but it doesn't affect the pain."

Besides questioning sugar's effectiveness as an analgesic, the study also suggests that facial expressions are not the definitive representation of babies' moods, reports the Independent. "The pain response in the brain and the facial responses are related, but a number of the babies didn't grimace or cry but did show a response in their brains," the researcher said. "What our study shows is that we may underestimate what is going on in the babies."

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