Acupuncture may reduce incidences of excessive crying in babies who have infantile colic, a study has found.
Babies who cry for more than three hours a day, on three or more days of the week, could benefit from twice weekly needling for two weeks, the researchers suggests.
The research published online in ‘Acupuncture in Medicine’ studied two types of acupuncture in 147 babies, against a control group.
“For those infants that continue to cry for more than three hours a day, acupuncture may be an effective treatment option,” the authors concluded.
All the babies in the study were aged between two and eight weeks old. They had all been on a cow’s milk exclusion diet for five days in a bid to curb excess crying.
Each child was randomly allocated to one of three groups, labelled A to C.
Group A received standard minimal acupuncture at one acupuncture point for two to five seconds without stimulation. Babies in group B were given tailored acupuncture at a maximum of five acupuncture points for up to 30 seconds with mild stimulation. Group C received no acupuncture.
Parents were asked to keep a detailed diary of how often and how long their child cried for two weeks.
They found the amount of time babies spent crying excessively fell in all three groups, “which is not unexpected as colic tends to clear up by itself eventually”, said the researchers.
But the reduction was greater in those given either type of acupuncture than it was compared to those given no acupuncture.
During the second week of the trial, 16 babies in group A still had infantile colic, compared with 21 in group B and 31 in group C.
“The babies seemed to tolerate acupuncture fairly well,” the authors wrote. “Out of 388 treatments given, the baby didn’t cry at all on 200 occasions, and cried for less than a minute on 157 occasions.
“Only 31 treatments triggered a crying jag of more than one minute. A single drop of blood was evident in 15 treatments.”
The researchers added: “Fussing and crying are normal communications for a baby, therefore a reduction to normal levels (rather than silence) is the goal of treatment.”