In study, acupuncture doesn’t hasten labor, delivery

By Tom Nordlie • Published: November 1st, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Acupuncture has many supporters in the Western world.

But some people doubt this ancient practice can resolve health issues.

Skeptics say acupuncture may provide a placebo effect, but that’s all.

Practitioners maintain they can improve health by manipulating energy channels that run through the body.

And there are acupuncture procedures for myriad complaints.

One is reputed to induce labor among pregnant women who are past their due date.

This treatment has caught on in the West, particularly among women who want to avoid using medications during pregnancy.

But one study, published in the British Journal of Gynecology, showed that acupuncture doesn’t always help.

Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial with one-hundred-twenty-five women who had reached the forty-first week of pregnancy without delivering.

That’s the point where many obstetricians recommend inducing labor.

Half the volunteers received a standardized acupuncture treatment.

The rest were given a sham treatment with blunt needles.

Twenty-four hours after the study began, twelve percent of the acupuncture group were in labor or had delivered.

But FOURTEEN percent of the sham group had gone into labor or delivered.

The results suggest acupuncture isn’t a worthwhile therapy for overdue pregnancy.

However, the researchers acknowledged that acupuncture treatments are usually tailored to individual patients.

By using a standardized protocol, the scientists may have reduced the chances acupuncture would work.

More research is needed.

Because if any women could be helped, they need to know whether acupuncture is worth pursuing.

Delivering a baby is serious business.

And moms-to-be deserve to do it on their own terms.