Minimal Acupuncture Seems To Calm Infant Colic Interview with:
Acupuncture Wikipedia imageDr Kajsa Landgren

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Health Sciences
Lund University, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Infantile colic is common, affecting 10-20% of newborns. These infants have intense crying and fussing, more than 3 hours/day more than 3 days/week. There is no medical treatment, causing desperate parents to seek complementary medicine. The evidence for acupuncture is sparse.

In this trial including 147 infants with colic, we tested two types of acupuncture. Both types of acupuncture were minimal, i.e needles were inserted for only a few seconds without further stimulation.

Group A received only one single needle for 2-5 seconds. Group B received up to five needle insertions for maximum 30 seconds. A third group, C, received no acupuncture. All families came to four extra visits to their Child Health Center where they met a nurse who gave advice and support. During these visits the infants were separated from their parents for five minutes, being alone with an acupuncturist who gave acupuncture to the infants in group A and B, but not to infants in group C. Parents and the nurse were blinded to which group the infant was randomized to. What are the main findings?

Response: There was no significant difference between the two acupuncture groups. Infants who received any type of acupuncture cried significantly less compared to a control group. After two weeks only 38% of the infants who received acupuncture had colic, compared to 65% in the control group. What should readers take away from this report?

Response: Infantile colic heals spontaneously but causes suffering in the infant and stress in the family while it lasts. Acupuncture may shorten this stressful period.
When parents experience excessive crying in their baby, the first important thing is to record the crying in a diary to evaluate the duration and intensity of the crying. Normal crying can be overestimated by tired and worried parents. If the baby cries more than three hours/day, a cow´s milk free diet should be tested as many infants with colic benefit from that. In our study only 157 out of 426 infants fulfilled the criteria for colic according to the diary after one week registration during which cow´s milk was eliminated. For those infants who still have colic, minimal acupuncture seems to be a safe and effective treatment. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We don´t know if we used the optimal acupuncture points, or the optimal “dosage” of acupuncture. More research could clarify this. Is there anything else you would like to add:

Response: In both acupuncture groups the needle stimulation was “minimal”, i.e few needles were inserted, for only 1-3 mm and a few seconds, without further stimulation. As this very mild stimulation resulted in significant effect, minimal acupuncture should not be used as a placebo in acupuncture research.


Kajsa Landgren, Inger Hallström. Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL). Acupuncture in Medicine, January 2017 DOI: 10.1136/acupmed-2016-011208
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on January 17, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD