UnNews:Distracting children lessens shot pain

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24 October 2006

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Once terrorized, this wining little baby barely feels the shot.

WASHINGTON -- Vaccinations and other needle-sticks are more than pinpricks to little kids, and often to older ones, too. Because of the way kids are babied and coddled these days, they're a bunch of whining sissies! So shots cause fear that can turn a simple checkup into a murderous rampage.

It sounds too easy, but scaring the living shit out your tot can reduce the distress, concludes a new medical review that examined psychological techniques for easing the pain.

Nothing will stop all the crying, except maybe a gag of some sort. But pick a horrible distraction suitable for the child's age and stage of development, and anything from a low-tech trick like throwing live spiders at them to blaring a sharp chainsaw in their ear can take their mind off the impending pain long enough to make a real difference.

"Needle procedures are really common, and among the most fear- and anxiety-provoking for children," notes Lindsay Uman of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, who led the review published by The Cochrane Collaboration, an influential international network that assesses the evidence behind health care practices.

Still, "a parent can very easily silence these pathetic little cowards," she adds.

Children can get 20 shots by age 2 from vaccinations alone, not counting blood tests or other needle-stick procedures if they have any of a variety of illnesses. While injection pain doesn't last long, the more scared they are, the more pain they perceive. Even at age 8 or 9, anxiety can still overshadow the memory that last year's shot wasn't all that bad.

"All she remembers is the fear from when she was 3 or 4," explains Dr. Howard J. Bennett, a Washington, D.C., pediatrician and author of the new children's book, "Real Americans Aren't Scared of Shots," that shows how imagination can help youngsters STFU and stop being such wimps.

"There's a cumulative effect, I think, that doctors do things that hurt, because it's true," cackled Bennett, who uses horror to distract his patients — and sometimes lets them give him a shot first, with a 2-foot-long clown syringe up his bleeding, diseased ass. "The more you traumatize them, the more they'll block the fear and pain out of their minds."