Background: The incidence of asthma and asthmatic bronchitis (hereafter asthma) in Danish preschool children is estimated to be 10%-20%. Few well-controlled studies have been published on acupuncture and asthma, and no researchers have focused on asthma in preschool children.
Objective: The study's primary objective was to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture for treating asthma in children aged 6 mo-6 y.
Design: This study was a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial.
Setting: The study was conducted in two acupuncture clinics in Denmark.
Participants: The research team randomly selected preschool children with medically diagnosed asthma and assigned them 1:1 to an intervention or control group.
Intervention: The intervention group received 10 acupuncture treatments over 3 mo. The control group received no placebo treatment.
Primary outcome measures: Efficacy was evaluated using asthma diaries. A Wilcoxon rank sum test was used for the analyses of longitudinal intragroup changes and paired differences between groups. Using a two-sided, 5% significance level and a power of 90%, a sample size of 100 patients/group was necessary.
Results: The research team randomly selected 122 children, with 52 children (26 intervention, 26 controls) being available for evaluation at 12 mo. Symptom scores and medication use were not different between the groups at 8 mo after completion of acupuncture. Significant reductions were observed in subjective asthma symptoms and in use of inhaled steroids (IHS) and β(2) agonists in both groups at 3 mo. Compared with the control group, the reduction in asthma symptoms (P = .0376) and use of IHS (P = .0005) was significantly larger in the intervention group.
Conclusion: Although the effect was not sustained beyond the treatment period, the study demonstrated that acupuncture had an effect on asthma in preschool children for the duration of the treatment course as assessed by subjective parameters and use of medication.