Young Parents Team
Putting Junior under the acupuncture needle to ease a painful stomach ache may seem counterintuitive and even dangerous. But a recent large-scale study has concluded that this alternative form of therapy is safe for children in the hands of a trained professional.
After reviewing 37 international studies, researchers at Canada’s University of Alberta found approximately one in 10 children experience “mild” side effects like numbness, pain and bruising at the puncture site.
Serious complications from acupuncture (such as infections, coma and nerve damage) were rare and mostly limited to clinics that had lapses in safety, noted the study published in the December 2011 issue of Paediatrics.
Even so, local practitioners here are cautious about using acupuncture on kids. TCM physician Lau Kiew Teck of Raffles Chinese Medicine does not encourage it, although it’s safe and suitable for young and old when administered by a competent doctor. Acupuncture is useful in easing digestive problems or reducing the frequency of a nagging cough.
“The danger doesn’t come from the acupuncture treatment itself, but from the child’s reaction,” says Kiew Teck. “A child doesn’t have full control of how he reacts to needles and pain. He may not follow the doctor’s commands or may struggle when you try to stick a needle in him. He may not stay put, and the needle may end up in the wrong spot.”
Consider acupuncture treatments for your child only when he’s above 12 years old, advises Kiew Teck. Older children are more likely to follow instructions and control their fear of needles. Steer clear of it if your child has eczema or other skin problems, as it may irritate or worsen the problem.