- Infantile colic is a common condition affecting 10-30% of the infants.
- It is a major source of pain for babies and a cause for concern among parents.
- New study shows that acupuncture helps to alleviate excessive crying associated with infantile colic.
Acupuncture may be an effective treatment option for babies with Colic in Infants.
Babies are said to be suffering from infantile or baby colic if they cry for more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 days per week and for more than 3 weeks
‘Those infants that continue to cry for more than 3 hours/day, could be effectively treated with acupuncture.’
Such infants are otherwise considered healthy.
Colic in Infants
Colic in Infants is a source of great concern and stress to parents. Excessive crying in babies is an issue for up to one in five families.
It is very common, occurring in round 10-30% of infants, affecting males and females equally.
Both breast-fed and formula-fed infants are equally affected.
It is one of the most common reasons for parents to consult their doctor in the first three months of their baby's life.
Acupuncture is said to relieve pain, restore gut function, and induce calm.
Researchers wanted to study if acupuncture might also resolve excessive crying in colicky babies.
Researchers recruited 147 babies aged between 2 and 8 weeks of age and who were otherwise healthy. Colic was confirmed in these babies at statutory routine check-ups in four child health centers in Sweden.
They compared two types of acupuncture with standard care alone.
The babies were on a cow's milk exclusion diet for at least 5 days to curb excess crying/fussing.
Each baby was randomly allocated to one of three groups:
- group A received standard minimal acupuncture at one acupuncture point (L14) for 2-5 seconds without stimulation
- 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
The babies were required to visit the child health center twice a week for two weeks for acupuncture.
The visit included a half hour appointment with a nurse to discuss symptoms while the statutory appointments included routine childcare advice along with weight checking and measuring.
Parents were asked to keep a detailed diary of how often and how long their child cried.
The procedure was carried out by 10 clinicians, nine of whom were fully trained acupuncturists, who had been in practice for an average of 20 years.
In all, 144 babies completed the two week trial.
In the two weeks, the amount of time spent crying excessively fell in all three groups.
This is expected as colic tends to clear up by itself eventually.
But the magnitude of the reduction in crying time was significant in the group that received either type of acupuncture than it was in the group that was given standard care alone.
Also many babies in the acupuncture groups did not meet the criteria for colic compared with those in the standard care group after two weeks of treatment.
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.
Even after the conclusion of the trial, parents continued to record bouts of crying for six days and these differences in outcome between the three groups were still evident then.
The babies seemed to tolerate acupuncture fairly well.
"Fussing and crying are normal communications for a baby, therefore a reduction to normal levels (rather than silence) is the goal of treatment," say the researchers.
The researchers also emphasize that parents should record their baby cries to see if it is excessive and then try eliminating cow's milk from their feeds before seeking further help.
The researchers conclude by saying that acupuncture may be a viable treatment option for babies who continue to cry for more than 3 hours/day.
The study is published in online in Acupuncture in Medicine
- Baby Colic - (http://patient.info/in/doctor/baby-colic-pro)
- Kajsa Landgren et al. Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL). Acupuncture in Medicine; (2017) doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011208