The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - August 18

Researchers in Italy found that cartoons helped distract kids from the pain of minor medical procedures. Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo and the Power Rangers might have a place in the doctor's office, a new study finds.

"We found that watching TV has an analgesic power, even greater than active distraction obtained by mothers' efforts," said lead author Dr. Carlo Bellieni, from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Le Scatte Clinic of the University of Siena.

His team's report was published online Aug. 16 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. In the small study, Bellieni and colleagues randomly placed 69 children, ages 7 to 12, in one of three groups to have a blood sample taken. One group was given no distraction during the procedure. In the second group, mothers tried to distract their children by talking to them, soothing, and/or caressing them. The third group of children was allowed to watch a TV cartoon during the procedure.

The children who experienced the most pain were in the group with no distraction. Their pain was about three times higher than the children who watched TV cartoons, the researchers noted. Children distracted by their mothers had less pain than the children with no distraction, but significantly more pain than the children who watched TV, the researchers added.