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Laser Acupuncture for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial


BACKGROUND: Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is usually treated with opiate derivatives and supported with nonpharmacological treatment.

METHODS: This prospective, randomized, controlled, blinded, single-center study was carried out between March 2009 and November 2014. Newborn infants diagnosed with NAS after maternal opioid substitution therapy were eligible for inclusion. Infants were randomly allocated to the acupuncture group (combining laser acupuncture and pharmacological therapy of morphine and phenobarbital) or control group (pharmacological therapy alone). Laser acupuncture was performed with a LABpen MED 10 (675 nm/10 mW) at 5 ear and 4 body acupuncture points, bilaterally, and sessions were repeated every day. The primary outcome measure was duration of oral morphine therapy for NAS. Secondary outcomes included highest single Finnegan score, time to highest single Finnegan score, maximum amount of oral morphine solution (in milliliters per kilogram and milligrams per kilogram), time to maximum amount of oral morphine solution, and length of hospital stay.

RESULTS: Twenty-eight newborns (14 in each group) were eligible for analysis. Duration of oral morphine therapy was significantly reduced in the acupuncture group compared with the control group (28 vs 39 days, respectively, P = .019). In addition, we observed a significantly reduced length of hospital stay in the acupuncture group compared with the control group (35 days [interquartile range 25 to 47] vs 50 days [36 to 66], P = .048).

CONCLUSIONS: Adjunctive laser acupuncture significantly reduced the duration of morphine therapy in newborns with NAS.

Laser Acupuncture points used:
The principle investigator (Dr Raith) is board certified in acupuncture and has >10 years’ experience in NADA acupuncture and laser acupuncture. Laser acupuncture was performed every day in a special treatment room until morphine was discontinued. Each laser acupuncture session was carried out according to a standardized protocol, always commencing at the ear (right ear first), followed by body acupuncture, also starting on the right side of the body from head to toe. This procedure was then repeated on the left side. Each laser acupuncture session was performed when the newborn was in a relaxed state (∼1 hour after feeding and administration of morphine solution). Laser acupuncture was carried out using a LABpen MED 10 (Behounek, Graz, Austria), a continuous wave semiconductor GaAs laser with wavelength of 675 nm and output power of 10 mW, diameter 1.5 mm.29 Ear acupuncture was performed according to the NADA protocol. Ear acupuncture points used were sympathetic point (point 51),  Shen Men (point 55), kidney point 95,  liver point 97, and  lung point 101. In addition, 4 further acupuncture points were used: LR 3  large intestine 4 (LI 4; He Gu),  kidney 3 (Tai Xi), and heart 7 (Shen Men).

Each ear acupuncture point was treated for 30 seconds (0.3 J/point), and body acupuncture points were treated for 60 seconds (0.6 J/point), resulting in an energy dosage of 17 and 34 J/cm2, respectively.

Studienautoren: Wolfgang Raith, Georg M. Schmölzer, Bernhard Resch, Fritz Reiterer, Alexander Avian, Martin Koestenberger, Berndt Urlesberger

Erschienen in: Pediatrics

November 2015, VOLUME 136 / ISSUE 5

From the American Academy of Pediatrics