Medical Research

Recent Research Shows Acupuncture Useful for Kids

Kristen Sparrow • August 22, 2011

There have been a number of recent studies about acupuncture for children. I think the problem comes with the number of visits needed for the conditions they describe below. It’s hard enough for adults to keep up with their acupuncture series, harder still for families and children. I’m board certified in Pediatrics and still think that the fit with kids and acupuncture can be tricky. (For more information about my practice, please click here.)

Most of us would say yes to anything that makes our children feel better, and expert evidence is piling up in favor of kiddie acupuncture. Recent research from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary found that acupuncture was as effective at treating amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” as eye patches. Other studies have linked acupuncture with reduced symptoms of ADHD in preschoolers and decreased crying episodes in colicky infants. And, according to a small study from doctors at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, acupuncture may alleviate pain and nausea in kids with chronic illnesses.

Worried about the ouch factor?

“While no one likes needles, kids are often surprised at how relatively painless and helpful acupuncture can be,” says Kathi Kemper, M.D., founding chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on complementary and integrative medicine. “The needles are tiny, and they’re not hollow, so they don’t tear the skin.” To find a reputable provider in your area, Kemper recommends asking your child’s pediatrician, who can direct you to someone specially licensed in pediatric acupuncture. You can also use the “advanced search” option at to find a local acupuncturist who specializes in treating kids.

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