Acupuncture in the neonatal intensive care unit—using ancient medicine to help today's babies: a review

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Abstract

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine for a variety of conditions and illnesses, including pain. Neonatal intensive care, on the other hand, is a relatively new branch of medicine that has emerged as the pivotal influence in increasing survival of critically ill newborn infants only within the last 50 years. Unfortunately, pain is an inevitable part of treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The control and prevention of pain remains a major issue for clinicians despite recognition and understanding of the myriad of short- and long-term problems that are associated with both pain and its treatment within the NICU environment. In this review, we examine the potential role of acupuncture to decrease and treat pain in babies requiring neonatal intensive care and discuss future therapeutic and research implications for the use of this ancient therapy within the modern environment of the NICU.

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