News Release

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Contact: Greg Raver-Lampman, 668-7554

Parenting technique takes the sting out of immunizations

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.--A research team led by CHKD pediatrician John Harringon found that a technique developed by a parenting expert to calm crying babies reduces pain and crying during immunizations, according to a study published in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Dr. Harrington used a technique developed by a parenting expert, Dr. Harvey Karp, who taught Michelle Pfeiffer and Madonna how to soothe their agitated infants.

Now, Karp’s techniques have proven effective in a medical setting, decreasing measures of pain as well as calming 2- to 4-month-old infants after vaccination, according to research published Monday in Pediatrics.

“Dr. Karp’s techniques appear to be a viable nonpharmacologic option for clinics to implement when providing analgesia during vaccinations,” said the study team’s lead author, Dr. John Harrington, a pediatrician with Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Dr. Karp, assistant professor of pediatrics at USC School of Medicine and author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” has been hailed as the baby whisperer for his ability to calm even colicky babies.

Dr. Karp’s technique involves swaddling the infant tightly in a blanket, putting him or her in a sideways or stomach position, shushing, swinging back and forth and allowing the infant to suck on something, often a pacifier. The shorthand for this is the 5S technique.

Dr. Harrington, who is also an associate professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, tested the 5S technique in a medical setting and tied to data that suggested not only a calming effect but a decreased measure on a validated pain measurement scale.

The infants receiving the 5S treatment calmed more rapidly than those who received only sugar water. Dr. Harrington believes the fact that the 5S technique works just as well without sugar may be a good thing in an age of rapidly increasing childhood obesity.

“Maybe that’s not the best thing to do for a child under stress, to say, ‘Here’s some sugar’,” Dr. Harrington said.