Minimal acupuncture calms crying, colicky babies: Should we be aghast?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study shows minimal acupuncture treats colicky babies

Results of a study published in the journal Acupunture in Medicine suggests crying, colicky babies might respond to acupuncture treatment. The finding has seemingly left some experts aghast.

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According to some experts, sticking your baby with needles seems extreme. But others say acupuncture for colic, based on new study findings, seems to be reasonable and is based on sound research methodology.

If the thought of using needles on your infant sounds awful, parents might consider the pain of colic. Also, the technique used in this study was minimal, meaning you would expect it isn't worth gasping about.

Researchers looked at two acupuncture protocols that they tested on colicky infants, which by definition means crying excessively - more than 3 hours a day, 3 or more days per week.

Colic also causes frequent spitting up. When babies have colic they draw up their legs and their tummies can feel firm

The pain of colic is shared by parents who have often tried various approaches to calm their infant. One of the most frustrating things for parents is no one knows what causes the condition.

There are no medications to treat the stomach spasms other than over-the-counter anti-gas remedies.

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They also added a no acupuncture group.

One group received Western type acupuncture based on acupuncture points that innervate the stomach and the other a more traditional Chinese acupuncture, carried out a L14.

The study, carried out by Lund University investiagors, found both types of acupuncture were "superior" to usual care for colicky babies who had all also abstained from cow's mile for 5 days.

Usual care for a colicky baby includes:

  • Holding the infant close
  • Warm baths
  • Abstaining from cow's milk
  • Rocking
  • Offering a pacifier
  • Back massages
  • Other soothing activities such as riding in the car or soft music
  • Feeding if your baby seems hungry
  • Burping

But parents often find themselves at a loss when none of these techniques work. Based on the study finding it seems reasonable that any caring parent might want to try acupuncture for an infant suffering from colic.

Journal Reference:

Acupuncture in Medicine
Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL)
Kajsa Landgren, Inger Hallström
doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011208

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