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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Acupuncture may not help alleviate labor pain, according to a review of past studies trying to establish the efficacy of the treatment.
Researchers from South Korea and Britain examined data from 10 clinical trials involving 2,038 women and found scant evidence that women who had undergone acupuncture experienced less labor pain than those who received no pain relief, a conventional painkiller, a placebo or bogus acupuncture.
"In this review, acupuncture did not seem to have any impact on other maternal or fetal outcomes, nor was it associated with harm," wrote Hyangsook Lee from the Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.
"However, there was no convincing evidence that women receiving acupuncture experience less labor pain than those in the control groups. Acupuncture might reduce the use of other forms of pain relief such as meperidine, but the evidence is limited. To summarize, the current evidence does not appear to recommend the use of acupuncture for labor pain."
The review was published on Wednesday in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Acupuncture has been used as a form of anesthesia in China for at least 2,600 years and experts believe it can clear blockages in circulation.