“Acupuncture Safe for Kids” story is frightening

This story appeared on the Google news homepage for Health:
Acupuncture Safe for Kids

Putting children under the needle for acupuncture appears safe when performed by trained practitioners, researchers concluded in a systematic review.

Only mild adverse effects dominated among those reported with pediatric acupuncture, accounting for 253 of 279 events recorded in the literature over the past 60 years.

There is no mention in the article of the efficacy of the treatments, which is marginal to nil (or worse, hard to tell). But then the injuries are detailed:

  • Five serious infections – one case of HIV, one septic sacroiliitis, one septic arthritis of a lumbar facet joint, a pyogenic spondylitis, and a case of subperiosteal abscess and osteomyelitis of the frontal bone.
  • One case of cardiac rupture was reported in a boy found on autopsy to have needle holes in the diaphragm, pericardium, and right ventricular wall, for whom the cause of death was deemed puncture of the heart.
  • One case of pneumothorax, with signs of lung scarring at the needling location, occurred in a girl getting acupuncture for an acute asthma attack.
  • One case of subarachnoid hemorrhage after acupuncture that included insertion of a needle to a depth of about 2 inches near the thyroid cartilage, which was suspected to have damaged meningeal or cephalic blood vessels
  • One case of intestinal obstruction with an egg-sized hematoma after acupuncture administered for diarrhea
  • One case of coughing up blood that resolved after a needle was found embedded in the boy’s lower right thorax
  • One case of reversible coma in a boy with posterior cerebral hypoperfusion, with the coma thought to have been from lying on his right side during the acupressure rather than the treatment itself.

Are YOU KIDDING ME?! For a treatment that doesn’t work!

But, finally, a mention of pros and cons:

Risks of acupuncture are important because evidence of efficacy is “still being developed” in pediatrics, as the group pointed out.

I’ll take a pass on these treatments!

An additional article on this is found in the NY Times Well. Check out the comments for some clarifications about efficacy.

  1 comment for ““Acupuncture Safe for Kids” story is frightening

  1. November 25, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    It is absolutely amazing the lengths people will go to to convince themselves and others that their favourite brand of woo works. I’ve been arguing with some nutters on HuffPo, some of whom have been quite offensive, sometimes deliberately:

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