Despite minor side effects in a small number of cases, acupuncture treatment is found by researchers to be safe for people under the age of 18.
After reviewing 37 previous studies which involved 1,400 children, researchers at found that only 168 patients experienced a mild adverse reaction while 25 cases faced a serious side effect. Mild side effects included things such as pain, bruising, bleeding, or worsening of symptoms.
According to the findings published in the journal Pediatrics, the rate of adverse events was significantly lower in children than what had been reported in adults.
Many of the serious adverse events were also believed to be the result of substandard practices.
“Of the adverse events associated with pediatric needle acupuncture, a majority of them were mild in severity. Many of the serious adverse events might have been caused by substandard practice," researchers wrote.
“Based on the available evidence, in trained hands, acupuncture is safe for children,” said lead author Dr. Sunita Vohra of the University of Alberta in Canada.
Although acupuncture is a safe alternative treatment for children, experts suggest that parents consult a pediatrician before deciding about the treatment and then set an appointment with a well trained and expert acupuncturist.