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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Acupuncture for babies?

20th February 2007

Figures show there has been a massive boom in the numbers of infants and toddlers being treated by alternative therapists. 

As more and more parents put their trust in complementary medicine, a debate has been sparked over the effectiveness of alternative therapies for children compared with traditional medicine. Experts from both sides of the argument agree that more research is needed into the safety and efficacy of complementary medicine. 

Paediatrician Jethro Herberg says, “I remain sceptical until there's good evidence.  My antagonism is proportional to the degree of harm [alternative therapies] can do. At best they are benign and, at worst, can do an awful lot of harm.?  Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, agrees that more research is needed saying, “We only have hearsay and clinical experience, which can be misleading.  Little children are very fragile and, to me, there is an ethical imperative to find more evidence. The official bodies should fund research."

The most popular treatments for infants are baby massage and yoga as well as homeopathy and acupuncture.  Ernst points out that while he believes gentle massage is very good for babies, acupuncture is dangerous in children and should be avoided.


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