Maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries (boo-boos): a randomized, controlled and blinded study

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Abstract

Background

The practice of maternal kissing of minor injuries of childhood (boo-boos), though widely endorsed and practised, has never been demonstrated to be of benefit to children.

Objective

To determine the efficacy, if any, of maternal kissing of boo-boos in toddlers.

Design

Randomized, controlled and double-blinded study of children with experimentally induced minor injuries. Control arms included both no intervention group and ‘sham’ (non-maternal) kissing. Children were blinded to the identity of the kisser in both the maternal and sham control groups.

Setting

Outpatient research clinics in Ottawa, Canada.

Participants

943 maternal–toddler pairs recruited from the community.

Measurements

Toddler Discomfort Index (TDI) pre-injury, 1 and 5 minutes post-injury.

Results

One-minute and 5-minute TDI scores did not differ significantly between the maternal and sham kiss groups. Both of these groups had significantly higher TDI scores at 5 minutes compared to the no intervention group.

Conclusions

Maternal kissing of boo-boos confers no benefit on children with minor traumatic injuries compared to both no intervention and sham kissing. In fact, children in the maternal kissing group were significantly more distressed at 5 minutes than were children in the no intervention group. The practice of maternal kissing of boo-boos is not supported by the evidence and we recommend a moratorium on the practice.

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