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The Neuroimaging Group, at the Department of Paediatrics, in collaboration with Bliss, the charity for babies born premature or sick, has launched a new suite of information resources for parents of neonates, designed to make them feel more confident about being involved in the care of their babies.

Picture of a bay in an incubator

While evidence demonstrates that parents can play a positive role in comforting their baby during painful procedures, practice in the UK lags far behind. However new research by the Neuroimaging Group, published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health and Pain has brought further proof of the positive impact that being involved in their baby’s care has on parents.

The Parental touch trial (Petal) aimed to assess whether parental touch at a speed of approximately 3 cm/s to optimally activate C-tactile nerve fibres, provides effective pain relief during a heel-prick procedure. While there was no difference in the babies’ brain, behavioural or heart rate response to pain regardless of whether the parent touched their baby before or after the painful procedure, the findings did demonstrate that the majority of parents had positive emotions when involved in their child’s care – such as feeling useful and reassured – and an overall decrease in parental anxiety after their participation.

These new resources, a combination of beautifully curated and informative videos, FAQs and online information content, have been developed in light of the collaboration with parents and healthcare professionals. They are free to access online and set out in detail the many ways that parents can touch and comfort babies of all gestations during painful procedures on the neonatal unit, including skin-to-skin care.

Read the full story on the University website.