Does Acupuncture Have a Place as an Adjunct Treatment During Pregnancy? A Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Systematic Reviews

Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Birth (Impact Factor: 2.05). 09/2009; 36(3):246-53. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2009.00329.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Complementary medicine has become popular throughout many Western countries and is widely used by women across all stages of their life cycle. Acupuncture is used by women during their pregnancy, and research suggests that acupuncture may be used as an adjunct to their existing conventional care. The aim of this paper was to summarize the evidence examining the effectiveness of acupuncture during pregnancy and birthing, and to discuss its role as an adjunct treatment.
We conducted a systematic literature search using several electronic databases. We included all placebo-controlled randomized trials of parallel design, and systematic reviews that evaluated the role of acupuncture during pregnancy and birthing. A critical appraisal of clinical trials and systematic reviews was undertaken.
The summarized findings indicated a small but growing body of acupuncture research, with some evidence suggesting a benefit from acupuncture to treat nausea in pregnancy. Findings from the review also highlighted promising evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture to manage back and pelvic pain, acupuncture-type interventions to induce change in breech presentation, and pain relief in labor. The methodological quality of recent trials has improved, and the quality of systematic reviews was high.
Interest is growing in the use of acupuncture to treat some complaints during pregnancy and childbirth, and evidence is beginning to consolidate that acupuncture may assist with the management of some complaints during pregnancy. However, definitive conclusions about its effectiveness cannot be reached and further research is justified.

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    • "One healthcare area which has attracted attention and debate among practitioners and policymakers in many countries has been the use of CAM during pregnancy (Nordeng & Havnen 2004, Refuerzo et al. 2005, Warriner 2007, Adams & Tovey 2008, Holst et al. 2008, Skouteris et al. 2008, Adams et al. 2009, Low Dog 2009). Although recent discussion has identified the need to develop an integrated approach to maternity care (Dooley 2006) and the efficacy of some CAM use in pregnancy is gradually emerging (Fugh-Berman & Kronenberg 2003, Huntley et al. 2004, Anderson & Johnson 2005, Smith & Cochrane 2009), there is a lack of understanding of attitudes and practice behaviours of mainstream maternity care professionals towards complementary and alternative treatments. "
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    • "Although the evidence base for acupuncture in relation to reproductive health complaints is limited, there is larger research base in relation to pregnancy and delivery. In a recent review we reported that evidence was beginning to consolidate for the use of acupuncture to assist with the management of some complaints during pregnancy and birthing (Smith and Cochrane, 2009). Our review included 16 studies, eight randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and eight systematic reviews. "
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