Acupuncture can have a potent effect in persuading babies to stop crying, new research has found.
Doctors practised the ancient Chinese needle technique on a batch of babies who were crying for more than three hours a day and found they came through the condition, known as infantile colic, significantly quicker than those who received no acupuncture.
Excessive crying affects one in five families and is a major factor in parents’ ability to cope in the first few weeks after birth.
Scientists at Lund university divided 147 babies aged between two and 10 weeks into three groups, giving infants in the first group between two to five seconds standard minimal acupuncture at one point on the body.
Babies in the second group were given tailored acupuncture at a maximum of five points for up to 30 seconds, and the final group received no acupuncture.
The researchers found that the babies who received standard acupuncture were 49 per cent more likely to have stopped crying in the second week of treatment than those who received no treatment, and those who underwent the tailored acupuncture were 32 per cent more likely to have stopped.
“Fussing and crying are normal communications for a baby, therefore a reduction to normal levels, rather than silence, is the goal of treatment,” wrote the researchers in the British Medical Journal.
“For those infants that continue to cry for more than three hours a day, acupuncture may be an effective treatment option.”