Infantile colic is not pleasant for either babies or their caregivers and now, researchers are saying that acupuncture may present relief for everyone involved.

For a study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, researchers explored if acupuncture could aid in resolving excessive crying in babies diagnosed with infantile colic, given the practice's known benefits.

Present in babies who cry three or more days in a week for more than three hours each time, infantile colic is an issue for one out of every five families, causing the baby pain and the parents or caregivers stress.

Infantile Colic Study

To see how acupuncture would affect colicky babies, the researchers worked with 147 infants diagnosed with the condition during routine check-ups in four Swedish child health centers. All the participating babies were aged 2 to 8 weeks and were deemed healthy by their doctors. All of the babies were also on cow's milk exclusion diets for a minimum of five days already as a measure to alleviate excessive crying or fussiness.

"Fussing and crying are normal communications for a baby, therefore a reduction to normal levels (rather than silence) is the goal of the treatment," said the researchers.

For the study, participating babies were randomly grouped into three and were required extra twice-weekly visits to their child health center for two weeks. These visits included a nurse appointment where symptoms were discussed and statutory appointments where routine child care advice was doled out and children were measured and weighed.

Those in Group A were assigned to receive minimal acupuncture at the L14 point for two to five seconds without stimulation, while those in Group B were administered tailored acupuncture at up to five points for up to 30 seconds with some mild stimulation. Group C was the control group so those from there did not receive any acupuncture.

All the procedures were done by 10 clinicians, nine of whom have received training as acupuncturists and have been practicing for 20 years on average. All the clinicians also underwent education to use acupuncture to specifically treat colic.

Acupuncture As Infantile Colic Treatment

Overall, 144 babies were able to complete the two-week period of the study. Excessive crying dropped, which isn't surprising as colic has a tendency of clearing up by itself over time, but the researchers pointed out that groups that received acupuncture treatments exhibited higher levels of reduction. And when the babies were reassessed after two weeks, Groups A and B had more infants that were no longer considered colicky compared to those from Group C.

Additionally, the babies appeared to have minimal trouble receiving acupuncture. Out of the 388 times the treatment was given, 200 involved babies that didn't cry at all while there were 157 times that babies cried for under a minute and just 31 treatments where babies cried for more than a minute. Acupuncture was also considered to be safe, drawing a drop of blood in only 15 treatments.

Given the results they got, the researchers concluded that infants who continue to cry for more than three hours each may be able to find relief in acupuncture.

Researchers for the study include Kajsa Landgren and Inger Hallstrom, both members of the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University's Department of Health Science.

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