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Acupuncture On Baby Colic: Is It Effective, Safe?

Update Date: Jan 18, 2017 09:20 AM EST

Babies who are crying endlessly may suffer from a condition called infantile colic. Though there are several ways to relieve colic in babies, a new study says the discomfort and crying may be reduced if they are treated with acupuncture.

The controversial study, published in the BMJ journal, Acupuncture in Medicine, shows that acupuncture may be an effective way to relieve baby colic. The team of researchers at Lund University in randomly assigned 157 babies aged two to eight weeks to three treatment groups - standard care, minimal acupuncture and acupuncture based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.

The team found the total time spent crying decreased by around 40 minutes a day in babies who received acupuncture, NHS Choices reports.

"I was a bit surprised that there was no significant difference between the two acupuncture groups," Kajsa Landgren, a lecturer in the department of health sciences at Lunds University in Sweden, told CNN.

"During the second intervention week, only 38% of the infants who received acupuncture fulfilled the criteria for colic, compared to 65% in the control group," she added.

However, any conclusions about the therapeutic effects of acupuncture could not be drawn from the study.

"We know that colicky babies respond even to minimal attention, and this trial confirms that a little additional TLC will generate an effect," Professor Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, said as reported by BBC News.

"The observed outcome is therefore not necessarily related to acupuncture," he added.

Recommended Treatment For Baby Colic

Many babies suffer from colic and they cry hard and continuously. Often, nothing seems to help them feel better. If a baby has colic, there are lots of ways you can try to comfort them like try holding the baby during a crying episode, sitting or holding them upright during feeding to prevent them swallowing air and avoiding drinking too much coffee, tea or caffeinated drinks if the mother is breast feeding.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic tension-type headaches, migraines, chronic pain, dental pain, postoperative pain and joint pain.

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