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Acupuncture relieves pain in labour without side effects

A systematic review that critically evaluated the evidence on acupuncture for labour pain management.

Ten randomised controlled trials involving 2,038 women receiving acupuncture alone, or as an adjunct to conventional analgesia, for pain relief in labour were included.

Pain intensity on a 100-mm visual analogue scale and uptake of other analgesic methods were used as primary outcomes.

VAS for pain intensity data were available in seven studies, and pooling of this data showed that acupuncture was not superior to minimal acupuncture at 1 hour and at 2 hours.

Patients reported significantly reduced pain by 4% and 6% during electroacupuncture treatment at 15 and 30 minutes compared with placebo electroacupuncture.

Compared with no intervention, acupuncture reduced pain by 11% for the first 30 minutes.

In trials where acupuncture was compared with conventional analgesia, women receiving acupuncture required less meperidine and other analgesic methods.

No acupuncture-related adverse events were reported.


Cho et al. (2010) Acupuncture for pain relief in labour: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJOG; 117(8): 907-20.


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