25. July 2017 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Babies, Colic

Acupuncture can reduce crying in infants with colic, according to a Swedish study. In a three-armed randomised trial, 147 infants received usual care together with either standardised minimal acupuncture (at Hegu L.I.-4), or semi-standardised individual acupuncture based on TCM (any combination of Sifeng M-UE-9, Hegu L.I.-4 and Zusanli ST-36), twice a week for two weeks. The effect of the two types of acupuncture was similar and both were superior to standard care alone. Relative to baseline, there was a greater reduction in time spent crying by the second week in infants receiving both types of acupuncture.
Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL). Acupunct Med. 2017 Jan 16. pii: acupmed-2016-011208. [Epub ahead of print].

Having a high diversity of bacterial species in the gut may protect babies against developing allergies, according to a comprehensive study of intestinal microflora in allergic and healthy infants conducted in Sweden. Stool samples were analysed at one month of age from 20 children with IgE-associated eczema, as well as from another 20 healthy controls. The researchers then used DNA sequencing to identify the bacterial species in the samples. The results showed that gut microflora diversity at one month was significantly greater in healthy children, compared to those children with atopic eczema. The authors results help substantiate the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which suggests that early exposure to environmental allergens reduces the risk of developing allergies. They suggest that the composition of intestinal microflora during the first weeks of life is critical to the development of the infant immune system. In the absence of sufficient stimuli from a wide variety of bacteria, the immune system may overreact against harmless antigens in the environment, such as foods. (Low diversity of the gut microbiota in infants with atopic eczema. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Dec 6. [Epub ahead of print]).

Meridian massage may help increase infants’ physical growth and improve their health, according to a Korean study. A total of 169 healthy infant-mother pairs were assigned either to a meridian massage group (MM) or a gentle touch massage group (GM), based on the mother’s preference. Massages were conducted by the infants’ mothers for 15 minutes per session, once a day for six weeks. Significant differences were observed in weight and height in favour of the MM group at the end of the six-week period. In addition, infants in the MM group showed a significantly fewer number of clinic visits over six weeks, compared to those in the control group. (Effects of Meridian Massage on physical growth and infants’ health as perceived by mothers. Pediatr Int. 2011 Sep 14. doi: 10.1111 /j.1442-200X.2011.034 77.x. [Epub ahead of print]).

A Cochrane Database systematic review has concluded that acupuncture and acupressure may have a role in reducing pain, increasing satisfaction with pain management and reducing use of pharmacological management for women in labour. Thirteen trials with data on 1986 women were included. Nine trials reported on acupuncture and four on acupressure. Less intense pain was found with acupuncture compared with no intervention. One trial showed increased satisfaction with pain relief compared with placebo. Reduced use of pharmacological analgesia was found in one trial of acupuncture compared with placebo and one compared with standard care.  Fewer instrumental deliveries were found with acupuncture compared with standard care.  Pain intensity was reduced with acupressure, compared with placebo and control and a combined control.  Trials showed significant heterogeneity and all showed some risk of bias.  (Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management in labour.  Cochrane Database Syust Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD009232).

 A case series study of 913 infants, carried out in Sweden has shown that minimal acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4 is an effective and easy treatment for infantile colic. The infants (mean age 5.4 weeks) had displayed colic symptoms since two weeks after birth. Light needle stimulation of Hegu L.I.-4 was performed for 10 to 20 seconds bilaterally on a daily basis for a mean of 6.2 consecutive days. Before treatment the infants were assessed by their parents whether they ‘often have inflated stomachs’ (99%), ‘seldom drool’ (76%), ‘regurgitate’ (53%) and ‘belch’ (62%). The reported frequency of defecation was five to eight times per day (64%), with a yellowish-green colour (61%) and a water-thin consistency (74%). After treatment, the variables for inflated stomachs, drooling and regurgitation were significantly improved and rated by the parents as occurring ‘sometimes’, while belching was rated as occurring ‘often’ and the frequency of defecation was reduced to one to four times per day with a mustard-yellow colour and a gruel-like consistency. The parents also rated their impression of the infants’ general colic symptoms including crying as ‘much ameliorated’ in 76% of cases. (Gastrointestinal symptoms of infantile colic and their change after light needling of acupuncture: a case series study of 913 infants. Chin Med. 2011 Aug 11;6(1):28).

An Italian pilot study has found that acupuncture can support women in maintaining breastfeeding for longer. Ninety women randomly received two interventions – acupuncture treatment or observation. Acupuncture sessions were performed twice weekly for three weeks. The control group made weekly visits to the clinic and the midwife observed their breastfeeding, giving routine care. At three weeks post-enrolment, exclusive breastfeeding was significantly lower in the observation group than in the acupuncture group (60% versus 100%). At three months, the difference between the two groups was still significant; breastfeeding was reported in 35% of the acupuncture group, compared with 15% of the observation group. (Acupuncture treatment as breastfeeding support: preliminary data. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):133-7).

Stimulation of Neiguan P-6 is an effective adjunctive treatment for post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) in children undergoing adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy. A pragmatic randomised controlled trial carried out in Norway enrolled 154 children who were undergoing day-surgery. The intervention group received acupuncture at Neiguan P-6 bilaterally for a median of 21 minutes during anaesthesia, followed by acupressure wristbands for 24 hours, alongside standard drug treatment. The control group received standard treatment. The results showed that children in the acustimulation group experienced significantly less retching and vomiting than the control group (46.8% vs 66.2%). The effect of acustimulation was found to be specifically pronounced in girls and children aged one to three years. (Perioperative acupuncture and postoperative acupressure can prevent postoperative vomiting following paediatric tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2010 Dec 18. [Epub ahead of print]).

Swedish researchers have shown that minimal acupuncture can shorten the duration and reduce the intensity of crying in infants with colic. Ninety otherwise-healthy infants (two to eight weeks old) with infantile colic were randomised to receive either six acupuncture treatments over three weeks or no acupuncture. Parents were blinded to the allocation of their children. Infants allocated to acupuncture were given minimal standardised acupuncture for two seconds at Hegu L.I.-4. The results showed that children who had acupuncture recovered from colic more quickly than those who did not. Infants in the acupuncture group also exhibited less distress (fussing and crying) over the intervention period. (Acupuncture reduces crying in infants with infantile colic: a randomised, controlled, blind clinical study. Acupunct Med. 2010 Dec;28(4):174-9).

An experimental trial has investigated the effects of acupressure and meridian massage on increasing body weight in premature infants. Forty subjects were randomised into two groups in the Taiwanese study. Those in the experimental group underwent a standard procedure of acupressure at Zhongwan REN-12, Zusanli ST-36, Yongquan KID-1, abdominal rubbing, spleen and stomach meridian massage, and kneading points along the bladder meridian. Treatment was administered for 15 minutes per session, one hour before meals, three times daily over 10 days. The control group underwent routine care. The infants’ body weights and the volume of milk ingested were recorded daily. The daily average weight gain of the infants in the experimental group was 32.7g, compared with 27.3g in the control group. While there was no significant difference in weight gain observed between the two groups in the first week, during the second week the weight gain observed in the experimental group was significantly higher than that observed in the control group. (Acupressure and meridian massage: combined effects on increasing body weight in premature infants. J Clin Nurs. 2008 May;17(9):1174-81).

Analysis of data from a landmark public health study suggests that people who had a low birth weight are more likely to experience depression and anxiety later in life. Canadian researchers used information from the Medical Research Council’s National Survey of Health and Development, one of the longest-running cohort studies ever. The survey tracked more than 4,600 people born in Great Britain in 1946 for symptoms of anxiety and depression over a 40-year period. They found that individuals who suffered from symptoms of depression and anxiety were more likely to have been smaller babies at birth and to have reached motor developmental milestones (like standing and walking for the first time) later. This supports research that suggests that prenatal stress may have a significant effect on the developing foetal brain, permanently altering response to stress. (A longitudinal typology of symptoms of depression and anxiety over the life course. Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Dec 1;62(11):1265-71).