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Chin Med. 2011 Aug 11;6:28. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-6-28.

Gastrointestinal symptoms of infantile colic and their change after light needling of acupuncture: a case series study of 913 infants.

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1
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. Irene.Lund@ki.se.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Infantile colic is a common painful clinical condition associated with signs of distended intestines and an increase in colon peristalsis. However, clinical documentation of observed gastrointestinal functions in the condition is still lacking. Even though the ailment is common, no clear treatment guidelines exist. While acupuncture with minimal stimulation has been shown to be effective in reducing crying behaviour of infants suffering from colic, the documented effect of acupuncture on gastrointestinal function in children with infantile colic is scarce. This case series study aims to document the symptoms of routinely rated gastrointestinal function and the changes in these symptoms after minimal acupuncture in a larger group of children with infantile colic.

METHODS:

This study included 913 infants with normal weights, and lengths at birth. The infants' mean age was 5.4 weeks when the observations started, and had colic symptoms since two weeks after birth. Light needling stimulation of the acupuncture point LI4 was performed for 10-20 seconds bilaterally on a daily basis for a mean of 6.2 consecutive days. A questionnaire with verbal rating scales for the parents' evaluation was used before and after the treatment period.

RESULTS:

Before treatment the infants were assessed by the parents in terms of 'often have inflated stomachs' (99%) and 'seldom drool' (76%), 'regurgitate' (53%) and 'belch' (62%). Moreover, the reported frequency of defecation was 5-8 times per day (64%), with a yellowish-green colour (61%) and with a water-thin consistency (74%). After treatment, the variables of inflated stomachs, drooling and regurgitating were systematically changed, and rated by the parents as occurring 'sometimes' while belching was rated as occurring 'often' and the frequency of defecation was reduced to 1-4 times/day with a mustard yellow colour and a gruel-like consistency. The parents also rated their impression of the infants' general colic symptoms including crying behaviour as much ameliorated in 76% of the cases.

CONCLUSION:

The results of the present study show that minimal acupuncture at LI4 in infantile colic is an effective and easy treatment procedure that, furthermore, is reported to be without serious side effects.

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