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Acupuncture May Relieve Heartburn In Pregnancy

ByABC News
June 9, 2009, 6:02 PM

June 10 -- TUESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture relieves the indigestion and heartburn that bother many women as their pregnancy progresses, a new Brazilian study shows.

Indigestion is common during pregnancy, with up to 80 percent of moms-to-be suffering heartburn, stomach pain or discomfort, reflux, belching and bloating. Symptoms tend to worsen over time, and women who avoid taking medicine for fear of harming the developing fetus might welcome an alternative treatment.

"Although small, this study suggests that acupuncture can relieve symptoms of indigestion that are pretty common in pregnancy and may provoke loss of quality of life in the final days, disturbing not only eating but also sleeping," said lead researcher Dr. Joao Bosco Guerreiro da Silva, from the department of internal medicine at Rio Preto Medical College.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 42 pregnant women with indigestion to dietary counseling plus antacids or to dietary counseling and antacids plus acupuncture once or twice a week. The researchers assessed the women's symptoms at the beginning of the study and every two weeks after that for eight weeks.

Heartburn, the main symptom, was reduced by half in 75 percent of the women treated with acupuncture. Women receiving acupuncture also ate and slept better, he said.

The report is published in the June issue of Acupuncture in Medicine.

The 20 women who underwent acupuncture and completed the study reported having milder symptoms and took less medication than the 16 women getting conventional therapy, the researchers found.

Fewer than half the women receiving traditional treatment said their heartburn was halved.

Among the 14 women who took antacids, seven in each group, those receiving acupuncture took 6.3 fewer doses, while those receiving conventional treatment upped the amount of medication they took by 4.4 doses, the researchers found.

In addition, 15 women in the acupuncture group said that their eating habits improved by 50 percent, compared with fewer than one in three in the other group. Fourteen women receiving acupuncture said their sleep had improved by 50 percent, compared with just one in four women treated conventionally.