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Chin Med. 2018 Jun 15;13:30. doi: 10.1186/s13020-018-0189-6. eCollection 2018.

The therapeutic effect of scalp acupuncture on natal autism and regressive autism.

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School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.



Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a common disease and the incidence has been rising constantly. Acupuncture is one of the most widely used complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Despite studies had been done on the effectiveness of acupuncture on ASD children, how factors such as chronological age and the onset pattern influence the effectiveness of the therapy remains unclear. The aim of this retrospective study is to know how symptomatology of ASD alters upon the introduction of scalp acupuncture and how do age and onset type affect the effectiveness of the therapy.


ASD children aged 2-11 years old were invited to join the study. In the course of the investigation, they received a total of 30 sessions of scalp acupuncture therapy. They were then evaluated to compare the performance on various aspects before and after the treatment. The influence on the therapeutic effect by factors including chorological age and onset pattern were further taken into consideration and analyzed. In addition, investigation on the relationship between allergies and onset pattern of ASD was performed by statistically analyzing the received epidemiologic data from the participants.


68 children with ASD participated in the study. It is found that the significant effective rate of scalp acupuncture on ASD is 97%. Scalp acupuncture can improve verbal communication problems the most while noise sensitivity improves the least. The therapeutic effectiveness decreases with increasing age and children with natal autism benefit more from acupuncture than those with regressive autism. In the latter part of the study, we observe a positive correlation between the family history of allergy and onset pattern.


Scalp acupuncture is an effective treatment for alleviating the symptomatology of ASD. The therapeutic effectiveness is expected to be higher for those patients with natal or early onset of the disorder, and at a younger age when they receive the therapy. The study result helps to formulate an ideal regimen for ASD patients and allow therapists and parents to make appropriate expectation towards the therapeutic outcome of acupuncture. Early intervention of scalp acupuncture therapy recommended. The relationship between the family history of allergic disorder and the onset type of ASD hints that the etiologies of natal and regressive ASD are discrete. It shows a great significance in differentiating the onset pattern in carrying out clinical assessments or researches on ASD patients.Trial registration This retrospective study was approved by the Committee on the Use of Human and Animal Subjects in Teaching and Research, Hong Kong Baptist University on 4th Aug 2017. The retrospectively registered number is HASC/Student/17-18/0115.


Natal autism; Regressive autism; Scalp acupuncture

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