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Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

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Acupuncture Calms Mom's Stress, Anxiety

Acupuncture Makes Moms Less Anxious, Resulting in Less Anxiety in Children
WebMD Health News

Oct. 15, 2003 -- A parent's anxiety leaps when their child is going into surgery. But a new study shows acupuncture needles -- carefully placed around the mother's ear -- can decrease her anxiety. When moms are less anxious, there's less anxiety in children, experts say.

Auricular or ear acupuncture has long been known to relieve stress and anxiety. Until now, however, it was not known that needles placed around the ear were so effective in relieving parental anxiety associated with a childs' surgery, a constant and very real concern for doctors.

Researcher Shu-Ming Wang, MD, at the Yale University School of Medicine. Wang presented study findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists being held in San Francisco this week.

In Wang's study, 43 mothers randomly chosen to get auricular acupuncture 30 minutes before their child's surgery had significantly less anxiety than the 49 mothers who got acupuncture but at the shoulder points, wrists, and joint positions.

Also, there was significantly less anxiety in children who's mothers received auricular acupuncture to reduce anxiety when they were wheeled into the operating room, and when the anesthesia mask was put on their faces.

In fact, after the surgery was over, 51% of the auricular acupuncture-group mothers asked to keep the needles in place.

While mothers were skeptical about the acupuncture procedure, the results were indisputable, researchers say.

"After the insertion of needles into the [ear], most of them were pleasantly surprised and asked, 'Is that it?'" says Wang in a news release. The procedure involves small needles that resemble flat thumbtacks. They are unobstrusive, effective, have no side effects, and are virtually painless.

In fact, "many of the patients laughed after I showed them the needles, and only a handful of them experienced a slight stinging sensation," Wang says.

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