No Acupuncture on Infants and Children for China

No Acupuncture on Infants and Children for China

If you have been a parent you probably remember just how vulnerable newborns and young children are. I remain amazed we survived as a species before the advent of civilization; crying babies at night must have been the signal for all you can eat for predators on the veldt.

Acupuncture has long been popular in China but there are differences between its practice in the West and East, as 'Big needles, small bodies'—the absence of acupuncture treatment for infants in contemporary Shanghai: a qualitative study makes clear.

At the Longhau Hospital acupuncture clinic it was noted there were no infants and very few children seen in the acupuncture clinic. They wondered why and did

Formal interviews and informal conversations with acupuncturists and other TCM professionals (which) revealed that acupuncture was neither routinely practiced nor recommended for infants and small children.

There were a variety of reasons for the lack of acupuncture in kids.

  • 'Nobody does paediatric acupuncture'. Lack of experience
  • 'Not convenient'. Lack of recommendations
  • 'No classic, no modern'. Lack of textbooks and training
  • 'For now, zero'. The lack of a strong research base
  • 'Of course it is painful'. The possibility of pain
  • 'Eighty percent of acupuncture on children is CP or other neurology'. Indications for acupuncture. "Acupuncturists and other TCM clinicians expressed the clear opinion that needle acupuncture was indicated for very few paediatric conditions in general."
  • 'TCM paediatrics is herbs'. The availability of TCM alternatives: Herbal medicine and Tui na
  • 'The whole TCM world is shrinking in China, or at least in Shanghai'. The money and the system
  • It is a vicious cycle'. The slipping confidence

and most interesting

  • 'Now parents take children to the Western Children Hospitals'. Trust in Western paediatrics. ". The vast majority of paediatric cases in Shanghai, particularly infants and toddlers, are treated at these hospitals. These hospitals provide treatment for a range of illnesses, from minor ailments to chronic or life-threatening conditions. Western medical hospitals are widely regarded as the first choice by Shanghainese parents seeking assessment, consultation and treatment for their children."

When it comes to their children, parents in Shanghai appear know that science-based, or Western as they call it, medicine, delivers. This, unfortunately, is not always recognized by parents.

And, as they note, not only is acupuncture not used in children, its use in the West is not based on either data or tradition in China:

This study adds to the ongoing discussion on the evidence, utility and limitations of acupuncture in children, as well as in medicine in general. Contrary to our observations in Shanghai, acupuncturists in the Western world encourage acupuncture for children, including infants. One rationale underpinning this trend is that acupuncture is widely considered in the West to be an integral part of TCM tradition, for patients of all ages. According to our study, Western beliefs that acupuncture is routinely indicated and recommended for infants and small children within TCM are unfounded. Such beliefs may appear to be a Western interpretation, and are not based on actual Chinese modern-day practices or therapeutic recommendations. Recent controlled trials investigating the efficacy of acupuncture treatment in the infant population yield conflicting results, and little clear empirical evidence is available to support the use of acupuncture. As such, it appears that the rise of infant acupuncture in the West could be partly attributable to Western acupuncturists' own clinical observations and theoretical beliefs. In line with the principles of biomedical ethics, however, this study underscores that this rationale is insufficient to recommend a potentially painful treatment for infants and small children who lack the competence to provide informed consent.

No data for efficacy, no rationale within the context of TCM, potentially harmful, and unethical. That sums up acupuncture in children for China. Now if only doctors in the US would pay attention.

Points of Interest 11/10/2015
Points of Interest 11/08/2015

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