Three different sorts of crying/fussing were recorded but I shall focus just on the total figures for all three. At the end of the trial those treated with acupuncture registered a 41% reduction in crying time vs 33% without acupuncture. This is not quite statistically significant though we would expect that when these results are combined with the data from three other similar trials the larger total numbers would change this to a positive. What’s probably of more interest to harassed parents is whether this size of difference is worth paying their money for (unless you’re Swedish and can get it for free). This is very hard to judge, not least because different babies (as with everyone) may respond very differently: some perhaps hardly at all while others get astoundingly much better. A good handle on this is to look at the response rates in the trial: what proportion of babies were still defined as colicky at the end? The answer is 65% for the no-acupuncture babies but only 38% for those given acupuncture. This is indeed an effect worth having and it’s both statistically and clinically significant.
The last word goes to Dr George Lewith, professor of health research at Southampton University: ‘It’s too small a study to be conclusive on its own but as there is no proven conventional treatment for infantile colic one could argue there is more evidence for acupuncture than conventional best practice’.