Treat Morning Sickness
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Acupuncture may be an effective treatment
for some symptoms of morning sickness during early pregnancy,
new study results suggest.
"The use of acupuncture in early pregnancy will reduce or resolve
symptoms of nausea and dry retching earlier than simply waiting
for them to improve with time," lead study author Dr. Caroline Smith
of Adelaide University in Australia told Reuters Health.
Smith and her colleagues studied 593 women who were all less
than 14 weeks pregnant and suffered from frequent nausea and vomiting.
The women were randomly divided into four study groups.
One group received traditional acupuncture, in which needles
were inserted into a variety of acupuncture points on the forearm
or abdomen, while another received p6 acupuncture, in which needles
were inserted at one specific pressure point (p6) traditionally
associated with nausea and vomiting.
The third group received "sham" acupuncture, in which needles
were inserted near, but not on, acupuncture points; and the last
group was a "control" group that did not receive acupuncture.
Acupuncture was given five times during the 4-week study period--twice
during the first week, and once per week during subsequent weeks.
At the end of the first week, women who received traditional
acupuncture reportedly experienced less frequent nausea and shorter
periods of nausea than did their peers in the control group, the
investigators report in the March issue of the journal Birth.
Their improved nausea symptoms persisted throughout each weekly
The p6 acupuncture group reported less nausea than the controls
at the end of the second week and into the third and fourth weeks,
while the sham group reported improvements at the third and fourth
Dry retching symptoms, in contrast, did not improve until the
second week, and then only in the traditional acupuncture group,
who reported fewer periods of dry retching and less distress from
dry retching than did their peers. By the end of the third week,
both the p6 and the sham acupuncture groups also reported greater
improvements in dry retching in comparison to their peers in the
Acupuncture did not seem to affect vomiting, but it did influence
the women's overall health status, particularly among those that
received traditional acupuncture, study findings indicate.
For example, women who received traditional acupuncture reported
greater improvements in vitality, social and physical function,
mental health and emotion at the end of the study period than
did their peers in the control group. Their vitality scores were
also higher than those reported by the p6 or sham acupuncture
In light of the findings, "acupuncture can be considered an
effective non-pharmacological treatment option for women who experience
nausea and dry retching and should be promoted and offered to
women," Smith said.
Because no adverse effects were noted in follow-ups conducted
after the women gave birth, "we consider acupuncture to be a safe
and effective treatment option for women," the researcher added.
SOURCE: Birth 2002;29.
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