Pain-free shots for kids

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on November 7, 2009 at 5:14 PM

Four-year-old identical twins Bella and Alex weren't looking forward to this doctor visit.

Getting their height and weight measured was the easy part.

They each got the seasonal flu vaccine in a nasal spray. The swine flu vaccine hadn't arrived at mercer island pediatrics, but the girls needed four childhood immunizations.

The twins got a prescription called Emla. The topical anesthetic numbs the skin in about an hour. 

Their pediatrician says most parents don't request Emla, but he's happy to oblige if they do.

"For some kids it may help purely psychologically. Some kids it may really anesthetize substantially. Either way, if it helps, it helps," said Dr. John Schreuder, Mercer Island Pediatrics.

A similar numbing cream, LMX-4, is available over-the-counter. It could cheer up kids who face four shots this fall to protect against seasonal and swine flu. 

"The average child in the united states will get twenty eight immunizations before the age of six," said Gary Walco, PhD, Seattle Children's Hospital Director of Pain Medicine.

Dr. Walco believes more parents should ask for numbing cream, and he says try to help your child with their own coping style.

"There are some people who are going to be looking at exactly what's going on, and watching the needle as it approaches their arm, and there are other people who would want to be anywhere but, and they're looking the other way," he said.

Alex did a little of both. in the end, but unfortunately, these identical twins did not have identical reactions.

For Bella, the insult of the shot was only relieved by a mother's hug and a coconut sweet.

Fear of needles can stick with you. Research shows 10 percent of adults are so needle phobic they avoid medical attention when they need it.

Infants under three months old with a rare blood disorder should not get the numbing cream. If you have concerns ask your doctor.

For more information about topical visit www.uwhealth.org

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