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Research on acupuncture in pregnancy

Last updated: 12 March, 2017
by Steven Clavey, Traditional Chinese Gynaecology

Evaluation of outpatient acupuncture for relief of pregnancy-related conditions.

High-quality systematic reviews (n=5) and RCTs with low risk of bias (n=3) were identified. The systematic reviews were based on single studies, with small sample sizes, that showed a benefit of acupuncture for evening pelvic pain; pelvic and low-back pain; nausea; functional disability; and sleep quality.”

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2018 Jan 21. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.12446. [Epub ahead of print]

Buchberger B, Krabbe L.

BACKGROUND: Acupuncture is a non-pharmacological option to relieve pregnancy-related complaints.

OBJECTIVES: To critically appraise the best available evidence for the use of acupuncture in outpatient care.

SEARCH STRATEGY: The MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and Centre for Reviews and Dissemination databases were searched for English-language and German-language papers published from January 1980 to March 2017 using search terms related to pregnancy combined with ‘acupuncture’.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing non-pharmacological treatments in unselected or low-risk pregnant women.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Quality was assessed using a checklist (A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews) and the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Meta-analyses were also performed.

MAIN RESULTS: High-quality systematic reviews (n=5) and RCTs with low risk of bias (n=3) were identified. The systematic reviews were based on single studies, with small sample sizes, that showed a benefit of acupuncture for evening pelvic pain; pelvic and low-back pain; nausea; functional disability; and sleep quality. Contradictory results were found in the RCTs regarding cesarean delivery; time to delivery; spontaneous labor; fetal distress; and Apgar score. Data pooling emphasized the heterogeneity of results.

CONCLUSIONS:

Evidence to support the use of acupuncture for relief of pregnancy-related conditions was limited.

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