gms | German Medical Science

16. Deutscher Kongress für Versorgungsforschung

Deutsches Netzwerk Versorgungsforschung e. V.

4. - 6. Oktober 2017, Berlin

Acupuncture for relief of pregnancy-related conditions in ambulatory care – a systematic review of reviews

Meeting Abstract

Suche in Medline nach

  • Barbara Buchberger - Universität Duisburg-Essen, Berlin, Germany
  • Laura Krabbe - Universität Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany

16. Deutscher Kongress für Versorgungsforschung (DKVF). Berlin, 04.-06.10.2017. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2017. DocP150

doi: 10.3205/17dkvf337, urn:nbn:de:0183-17dkvf3373

Veröffentlicht: 26. September 2017

© 2017 Buchberger et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open-Access-Artikel und steht unter den Lizenzbedingungen der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (Namensnennung). Lizenz-Angaben siehe



Introduction: Many pregnant women are dealing with complaints caused by hormonal and musculoskeletal changes. Turning to non-pharmacological treatments, acupuncture is one of several alternatives promising relief like massage, relaxation, exercise, or yoga. Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and based on the stimulation of specific points on the body surface, the acupuncture points. For insertion into the skin, the most traditional procedure uses thin, solid, metallic needles which are manipulated manually. Acupuncture is used for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes in the case of reversible diseases or disorders that impact the function of the organism. A normal treatment consists of insertion of a varying number of needles up to 30 which are removed after 20-30 minutes. During pregnancy, the therapist must avoid certain acupuncture points that are supplying the cervix and the uterus and are used to induce labor.

Objectives: Our aim was to critically appraise the best available evidence for traditional needle acupuncture treatment of pregnancy-related conditions in ambulatory care.

Methods: We searched Medline via PubMed, The Cochrane Library, and DARE for systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and Health Technology Assessments in November 2015 and updated our searches in March 2017. We included unselected or low-risk pregnant women of all ages and at any stage of pregnancy treated by needle acupuncture compared to standard care, no treatment, placebo, or sham acupuncture in an ambulatory setting. As outcome of interest, we considered course of pregnancy, labor pain, nausea, retching, vomiting, back pain, and adverse events. Methodological quality was assessed by the AMSTAR checklist. Two reviewers independently screened titles, abstracts, and full-texts and decided about the eligibility of articles; data extraction and quality assessment was cross-checked.

Results: We included five systematic reviews fulfilling our predefined criteria. They compared traditional acupuncture to sham acupuncture, usual care, or any exercise. The evidence was based on single studies showing a benefit by acupuncture treatment concerning evening pelvic pain, pelvic and low back pain, nausea, functional disability, and sleep quality and insomnia. Due to the heterogeneity of interventions and outcome parameters, data pooling was not possible.

Conclusion: The methodological quality of the systematic reviews in general was good but the single studies on acupuncture included small sample sizes with additional methodological flaws. Therefore, the evidence in favor of acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture, usual care, or any exercise for relief of pregnancy-related conditions is very limited.