RELIEF OF PAIN:
A MEDICAL DISCOVERY
It is a long-established
custom among Muslim parents to put a piece of well-chewed date (or
other available sweet fruit) in the mouth of a newborn baby. Muslims
do this following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him
be peace, believing him to bee, as the Qur'an says, sent as a healing
and a mercy to mankind. We may infer from the way this custom originated
that there is a virtue in it. There is - complimentary to the virtue
and pleasure of following the Sunnah (the practice of the Prophet)
- placing a `sugary substance' inside the mouth of a new-born baby
dramatically reduces pain sensation and heart rate.
An interesting scientific
medical study, published in the British Medical Journal (No. 6993,
10 June 1995), proved beyond any doubt the benefit of giving a new-born
child sugar, in order to reduce the feeling of any painful procedure
like heel pricking for a blood sample or before circumcision.
The study, entitled
`The analgesic (pain killing) effect of sucrose in full term infants:
a randomised controlled trial', was done by Nora Haouari, Christopher
Wood, Gillian Griffiths and Malcolm Levene in the post-natal ward
in the Leeds General Infirmary in England.
60 healthy infants
of gestational age 37-42 weeks and postnatal age of 1-6 days, were
randomised to receive 2ml of one of the four solutions: 12.5% sucrose,
25% sucrose, 50% sucrose, and sterile water (control).
The first group of
30 babies received sugar syrup before a routine blood test (heel
pricking, which is usually painful) done to detect jaundice. The
other 30 babies were given only sterile water as a control group.
Placing 2ml of a
25% or 50% sucrose solution on the tongue before pricking the heel
significantly reduced the crying time, compared to babies who got
water. Also, their heart rate returned to normal more quickly. The
stronger sugar solution had the greater effect, crying being reduced
further with increasing concentration of sucrose. From which we
may conclude that sucrose (sugar) placed on the tongue may bee a
useful and safe form of analgesia for use with newborn infants.
Blass and Hoffmeyer
also showed that 12% solution of inter-oral sucrose significantly
reduced the duration of crying in new-born babies subjected to heel
pricking or circumcision. This study was reported in The Independent
newspaper (Friday 9 June 1995) as well as in the British Medical
The practice of the
Prophet, upon him b piece, is recorded in the collections of his
sayings and reports about him, of which the most revered are the
two Sahih collections of Bukhari and Muslim:
Abu Buradah reported
from Abu Musa, who said: `I had a new-born baby; I took him to the
Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who called him
Ibrahim. The Prophet chewed a date then he took it and rubbed the
inside of the baby's mouth with it.'
There are many other
reported incidents like this one.
The date contains
a very high percentage of sugar (70-80%); it has both fructose and
glucose which have high calorific values, it is easily and quickly
digestible, and very helpful to the brain. The date contains 2.2%
protein, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2 ad nicotruic acid (against Pellagra);
it has traces of minerals needed for the body such as potassium,
sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper. Potassium, of which percentage
is very high, has been found to be very effective for cases of haemorrhage,
such as the occasions of birth or circumcision.
We may note that
the Sunnah also commends dates for the breaking of the fast in Ramadhan.
Dates should be eaten, if available, before the sunset prayer -
this is medically and nutritionally the best way and the Sunnah.
The great worth of
dates is also indicated in a famous and beautiful passage of the
Qur'an, surah Maryam, verses 25-6:
And shake towards
you the trunk of the palm-tree and it will drop on you fresh ripe
dates. So eat and drink and be comforted.
This was the prescription
of God, the Creator, for the blessed Virgin Mary at the time of
the birth of Jesus, the blessed Prophet of God. It was a prescription
to make the delivery easy and comfortable.
As in the example
we have briefly recorded in this example, we believe further research
will confirm for those who still doubt the full worth and truth,
the wisdom, of the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah.
We shall show
them our signs on he furthest horizons and within themselves until
it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient
that your Lord is witness over all things? (Qur'an Fusilat, 41.53)
As the authors of
the medical study referred to intend trying new sugary or sweet
substances, we shall recommend that they try dates for the newborn
for the relief of pain.
Finally, we hope
Muslim medical scientists and researchers take this new discovery
on board, and that many more ideas and practices in the teaching
of Islam needing investigative research and objective, scientific
study will get the attention they deserve.