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Alternative Medicine

Katie Allison delivered an  8-pound, 4-ounce baby girl without any medication. Instead she chose acupuncture. The mother of three was selected at random to receive free acupuncture during labor.

Lutheran's promising new research suggests acupuncture, when administered during labor and delivery, provides for a smoother labor and fewer Cesarean sections. The study, funded partially by a grant from the N.Y.S. Department of Health's Clinical Research Investigation Program, is one of the first in the United States to observe effects on labor and the first to show a reduction in the incidence of Cesarean sections.

"I would definitely recommend acupuncture," said Katie Allison, mother of three and a speech pathologist from Marine Park," Everyone was so supportive, the labor pain still hurt, but the acupuncture really helped to relieve some of the stress."

Acupuncture has been a traditional part of Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. It typically involves the insertion of tiny, hair-like needles into specific points along the body. Although its effectiveness has been observed in many areas from arthritis to back pain, receiving acupuncture during labor in the United States is rare. "Lutheran is setting a standard by embracing acupuncture and studying its relevance in conventional medical practice," says Claudia Citkovitz, L.Ac., Touro College acupuncture internship program director. "From patients recovering from stroke to those undergoing chemotherapy, acupuncture has shown positive benefits across a number of medical disciplines at Lutheran."

The medical center has also found that acupuncture treatment during pregnancy benefits both baby and mother. Regular balancing treatments throughout pregnancy - and after delivery - have been found to reduce pain. "Many people don't want medication during labor for a variety of reasons, and acupuncture provides a non-medication alternative for pain relief," said Iffath A. Hoskins, M.D., chair and residency director of OB/GYN, Lutheran Medical Center. "As more women seek drug-free treatment for pain or conditions related to pregnancy, this could be a great alternative with little or no side effects."

In Lutheran's study, 45 women received acupuncture treatments to relieve pain, help the mothers relax, and facilitate contractions and dilation. When their outcomes were compared to those of 127 controls who did not receive acupuncture, there was a moderate difference in the amount of analgesics used - and a significant difference in the number of Cesarean sections: seven percent in the acupuncture group vs. 20 percent in the control group. For more information contact Claudia Citkovitz in Lutheran Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at 718-630-7056.

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