Background Colic causes crying in 10–30% of infants and is one of the primary reasons parents seek health care. Treatments are generally not totally effective and some cause side effects. In this study we aimed to test the effect of light needling (minimal acupuncture) on crying.
Methods Forty children (median six weeks of age) with excessive crying unresponsive to conventional therapies, were recruited from 21 Child Welfare Clinics within an area of western Sweden, and quasi-randomised to control or light needling treatment. Parents were unaware of which group their child was assigned to. Children were given light needling acupuncture on one point (LI4) on both hands for approximately 20 seconds on four occasions, or received the same care except needling. Parental assessment questionnaires were used pre- and post-treatment to assess crying intensity, frequency, duration of crying and pain related behaviour throughout the day in six hour periods.
Results Light needling resulted in a significant reduction in the rated crying intensity (assessed by a numeric rating scale, 0 to 10). For example, during the morning time period 0600–1200 hours, the median (range) rated crying intensity changed from 6 (1 to 9) pre-treatment to 2 (0 to 5) post-treatment (P=0.002), in the light needling group. The corresponding ratings for the children in the control group was 6 (0 to 10) and 5 (0 to 10) respectively. The difference between the groups was significant (P=0.016). There were also significant differences between the groups for the afternoon (1200–1800 hours), and evening (1800–midnight) time periods. Pain related behaviour like facial expression, was also significantly less pronounced in the light needling group as compared to the control group post-treatment, (P=0.027). The parents rated the light needling as more effective in improving symptoms than the control group (P<0.001).
Conclusion Four treatments with light needling on one point in the hand may alleviate crying and pain related behaviour without any noted side effects.
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