Background Evidence for treating infantile colic with acupuncture is contradictory.
Aim To evaluate and compare the effect of two types of acupuncture versus no acupuncture in infants with colic in public child health centres (CHCs).
Methods A multicentre, randomised controlled, single-blind, three-armed trial (ACU-COL) comparing two styles of acupuncture with no acupuncture, as an adjunct to standard care, was conducted. Among 426 infants whose parents sought help for colic and registered their child's fussing/crying in a diary, 157 fulfilled the criteria for colic and 147 started the intervention. All infants received usual care plus four extra visits to CHCs with advice/support (twice a week for 2 weeks), comprising gold standard care. The infants were randomly allocated to three groups: (A) standardised minimal acupuncture at LI4; (B) semi-standardised individual acupuncture inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine; and (C) no acupuncture. The CHC nurses and parents were blinded. Acupuncture was given by nurses with extensive experience of acupuncture.
Results The effect of the two types of acupuncture was similar and both were superior to gold standard care alone. Relative to baseline, there was a greater relative reduction in time spent crying and colicky crying by the second intervention week (p=0.050) and follow-up period (p=0.031), respectively, in infants receiving either type of acupuncture. More infants receiving acupuncture cried <3 hours/day, and thereby no longer fulfilled criteria for colic, in the first (p=0.040) and second (p=0.006) intervention weeks. No serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusions Acupuncture appears to reduce crying in infants with colic safely.
Trial registration number NCT01761331; Results.
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Review history and Supplementary material
Contributors KL and IH designed the trial and drafted the manuscript together. KL is the primary investigator and project leader.
Funding Ekhagastiftelsen, Family Uddenäs.
Competing interests None declared.
Parental consent obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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