Acupuncture To Treat Nausea and Vomiting in Early Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Authors

  • Caroline Smith PhD, MSc, BSc, Lic Ac,

    1. Carolin Smith is a postdoctoral research officer and Caroline Crowther is Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Adelaide University, Adelaide, Australia.
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  • Caroline Crowther MD, FRCOG, FRANZCOG, CMFM,

    1. Carolin Smith is a postdoctoral research officer and Caroline Crowther is Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Adelaide University, Adelaide, Australia.
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  • Justin Beilby MBBS, FRACGP, MPH

    1. Justin Selby is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice, Adelaide University, Adelaide, Australia.
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Address correspondence to Dr. Caroline Smith PhD, MSc, BSc, Lic Ac, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Adelaide University, Women's & Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia.

Abstract

Background: Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy are troublesome symptoms for some women. We undertook a single blind randomized controlled trial to determine whether acupuncture reduced nausea, dry retching, and vomiting, and improved the health status of women in pregnancy. Methods: The trial was undertaken at a maternity teaching hospital in Adelaide, Australia, where 593 women less than 14 weeks' pregnant with symptoms of nausea or vomiting were randomized into 4 groups: traditional acupuncture, pericardium 6 (p6) acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or no acupuncture (control). Treatment was administered weekly for 4 weeks. The primary outcomes were nausea, dry retching, vomiting, and health status. Comparisons were made between groups over 4 consecutive weeks. Results: Women receiving traditional acupuncture reported less nausea (p < 0.01) throughout the trial and less dry retching (p < 0.01) from the second week compared with women in the no acupuncture control group. Women who received p6 acupuncture (p < 0.05) reported less nausea from the second week of the trial, and less dry retching (p < 0.001) from the third week compared with women in the no acupuncture control group. Women in the sham acupuncture group (p < 0.01) reported less nausea and dry retching (p < 0.001) from the third week compared with women in the no acupuncture group. No differences in vomiting were found among the groups at any time. Conclusion: Acupuncture is an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy. A time-related placebo effect was found for some women. (BIRTH 29:1 March 2002)

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