Iraqi doctors turn to acupuncture for caesarean deliveries
Wednesday 5th May, 2010
Doctors in Iraq are using traditional Chinese medicine for caesarean section births due to an acute shortage of drugs.
A hospital in war-torn Baghdad has been substituting the commonly used oxytocin drug with acupuncture to treat mothers during caesarean deliveries
The study of 200 cases, which was published in British medical journal ‘Acupuncture in Medicine’, concluded that acupuncture could be a useful addition to traditional medicine methods even if hospitals are not struggling to find drugs due to the recent conflicts.
During childbirth, a naturally occurring hormone called oxytocin is often given to mothers after a caesarean to help reduce the uterus and limit the risk of bleeding. Between 2004 and 2006, Doctors at the Red Crescent Hospital of Gynaecology in Baghdad turned to acupuncture when there were fears supplies of oxytocin would run out.
Womb contraction decreased enough in 45% of the women for oxytocin not to be needed at all, and enough in 30% of the women for them to need two units of the drug.
Normally, doctors will administer between 10 and 20 units of oxytocin, so the Baghdad women were managing on around 18% of the normal dose.
Only four women who received acupuncture needed more than four units of oxytocin.
Lead author of the study Lazgeen Zcherky said the majority of patients who received acupuncture did not need oxytocin at all and it was a useful substitute which enable hospitals to retain drug stores.
The acupuncture treatment administered by doctors in Baghdad involved six needles inserted into the toes and ankles as soon as possible after delivery followed by manual stimulation for 5-10 minutes.
The acupuncture points used relate to problems of the womb such as bleeding, prolapse, uterine contractions, placenta retention and labour difficulties.
Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Britain’s Peninsula Medical School said previous clinical trials did not support the use of acupuncture in childbirth.