If you’re like most parents, the idea of sticking a bunch of needles into your newborn is enough to trigger a major wave of anxiety. But according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal‘s Acupuncture in Medicine, even minimal amounts of acupuncture might actually help young babies with colic cry less. Yes, you read that right: needles + babies might sometimes be a very good thing.
Here’s the scoop. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden divided 147 babies aged two to eight weeks with confirmed cases of infantile colic into three randomized groups, allowing two of the groups to receive different types of acupuncture over a two week period. All three groups of babies received standard care for colic, and parents were required to keep detailed records of how often and how long their babies cried.
After the two week trial, crying had fallen in all three groups of babies – not all that surprising, researchers noted, given that colic tends to clear up on its own over time – but the magnitude of the crying reduction was greater for the babies who had received acupuncture than for those who had received none at all. In fact, by the second week of the trial, a significantly higher number of babies in the acupuncture groups no longer fulfilled the criteria for colic.
And in case you’re wondering, the babies in the acupuncture groups apparently tolerated the needles quite well – out of 388 treatments administered, the baby receiving treatment didn’t cry on 200 occasions, and cried for less than a minute on 157 occasions. Who says babies aren’t tough?
So does this mean your GP will be handing out acu referrals for your colicky newborn anytime soon? Well, not yet – but some scientists and researchers are calling the study a promising one that warrants further investigation. In the meantime, on behalf of all the parents of colicky babes out there, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that conclusive proof arrives sooner rather than later.