New research from Sweden has suggested that acupuncture could reduce crying in babies with colic.
However, UK experts have said that no firm recommendations can be made based on the small, controversial study.
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden studied 147 babies between two and eight weeks old.
They divided the babies into three groups, allowing them to compare two different types of acupuncture to babies who received no treatment.
The group of babies trying the first type of acupuncture had one needle inserted, three millimeters into the skin, for a few seconds.
The group of babies trying the second type of acupuncture had five needles inserted into the skin, for up to 30 seconds.
This was repeated twice a week for two weeks, while parents recorded how long their child cried for during this time.
The results showed a great reduction in colicky crying in all of the babies, but much faster in the two groups that had received acupuncture, compared to the group which hadn’t.
Colic is a term used to describe bouts of uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby.
It usually starts when your baby is two or three weeks old and can stop at around four months old.
Colic can be distressing for both babies and parents at the time, but it will pass and is normally nothing to worry about.
Edward Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, said acupuncture as a cure for colic can’t be confirmed from this study.
‘We know that colicky babies respond even to minimal attention, and this trial confirms that a little additional TLC will generate an effect,’ he said.
‘The observed outcome is therefore not necessarily related to acupuncture.’
The medical director of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, Dr Mike Cummings, said he wasn’t aware of any babies in the UK being treated for colic with acupuncture.
Even though the findings weren’t statistically strong enough to draw firm conclusions, Dr Cummings did say ‘there might be an effect which could be worth investigating further’.
How can you treat colic?
The NHS recommends different methods to help ease a colicky baby – but none include acupuncture:
• Holding your baby during a crying episode.
• Preventing your baby swallowing air by sitting or holding them upright during feeding.
• Burping your baby after feeds.
• Gently rocking your baby over your shoulder.
• Bathing your baby in a warm bath.
• Gently massaging your baby’s tummy.