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The Potential of Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy

This just in from registered dietitian and licensed acupuncturist Karen Siegel. Karen's practice is in Houston, Texas, if you are interested in consulting with her.

Acupuncture Benefit Seen In Pregnancy
By SHIRLEY S. WANG

Acupuncture designed to treat depression appears to improve symptoms in pregnant women, suggesting it as an alternative to antidepressant medication during pregnancy, a study found.

The study, published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, is the largest to date examining the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat depression in pregnant women. It was funded by a grant from the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality."Acupuncture that we have tested works for pregnant, depressed women," said Rachel Manber, a study author and professor at Stanford University. However,"no single study is enough to make policy recommendations," she said.

Depression in pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is associated in some studies with poorer cognitive and emotional development in children. Some have linked depression in pregnancy and low birth weight.

As many as 14% of pregnant women are thought to develop depression at some point during their pregnancy, according to the study authors, comparable to numbers who suffer from postpartum depression. Antidepressants are generally considered safe for use in pregnancy, but research has been limited and concerns continue to grow, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Acupuncture attempts to treat conditions by stimulating points on the body, most often with needles stuck in the skin and moved by hand or electrical stimulation, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

In the study, 150 clinically depressed pregnant women who weren't previously taking antidepressants were randomly assigned to get either acupuncture for depression, acupuncture not specifically designed for depression, or massage for eight weeks. Some 63% of women in the acupuncture-for-depression group responded to treatment, compared with 44% in the other groups.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D3, February 23, 2010

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