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Acupuncture Safe for Children, Review Finds
Date:11/21/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- When done by well-trained professionals, acupuncture can be a safe treatment for children, new research suggests.

In an analysis of 37 studies or case reports, Canadian researchers found that in over 1,400 children treated with acupuncture, just 168 experienced a mild adverse reaction, such as crying or pain. The investigators found 25 reports of serious adverse events.

"In trained hands, acupuncture seems safe in children," said the study's senior author, Dr. Sunita Vohra, a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Results of the study are published online and in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Acupuncture is a treatment that is said to have originated in China thousands of years ago. In Eastern medicine, acupuncture is believed to open the channels where a person's Qi (pronounced chee), or life force, is blocked. In Western medicine, it's more commonly believed that acupuncture works by stimulating the release of the body's natural painkillers, according to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Stimulation of certain areas to release the blocked Qi (called acupoints) can be done through the insertion of very thin needles or with heat, pressure or a laser, the study authors pointed out in background information in the article.

Acupuncture is used for a variety of problems, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety and muscle spasm, according to Vohra and Dr. Raymond Pitetti, the associate medical director of the emergency department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Jeannie Kang, president of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, added that acupuncture is also used for sprains, allergies, asthma, and menstrual cramps and irregularities.

In the United States, recent estimates suggest that as many as 3 mi
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