Effects of acupuncture and care interventions on the outcome of inflammatory symptoms of the breast in lactating women

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ObjectiveTo compare modes of care and treatment for lactating women with inflammatory symptoms of the breast, with special focus on the use of acupuncture.MethodEighty-eight mothers were randomized into three treatment groups. All three groups were given advice regarding emptying of the breasts and care in the form of comfort interventions. Acupuncture was included in the treatment regime for two of the groups. A severity index was created by adding together scores for signs and symptoms: breast tension, erythema and pain.FindingsMothers in all groups expressed relative satisfaction with the breastfeeding situation despite considerable discomfort. There was no significant difference between the groups for the number of mothers requiring more than three contact days for recovery nor for their severity index scores on day 3. These findings must be interpreted with care but may suggest that care interventions play as great a part in the recovery of these women as acupuncture treatment or the use of oxytocin spray. Antibiotic therapy was used in 9% of the study population, which is in contrast to other studies.Proposed future actionBased on these results, a new study has been designed to test the hypothesis that acupuncture hastens recovery from inflammatory processes in the lactating breast and approximately 200 mothers will be randomized in a new expanded study.

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