Magnetic noninvasive acupuncture for infant comfort (MAGNIFIC) - a single-blinded randomised controlled pilot trial

Acta Paediatr. 2017 Nov;106(11):1780-1786. doi: 10.1111/apa.14002. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


Aim: To determine the safety and feasibility of auricular noninvasive magnetic acupuncture (MA) to decrease infant pain during heel pricks.

Methods: Infants requiring heel pricks for blood collection were randomised to either MA (n = 21) or placebo (P) (n = 19) after parental informed consent. MA or placebo stickers were placed on both ears according to the Battlefield Protocol by an unblinded investigator and left on for 3 days. Pain was assessed with the Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) by blinded clinicians.

Results: Mean gestation (MA:34.1, P:34.4 weeks) and age of infants (MA:5.3, P:4.5 days) were similar as were mean (SD) pre (MA:1.7(1.4), P:2.1(1.9)) and post (MA:1.6(1.4), P: 2.1(1.7)) heel prick PIPP scores. PIPP scores were significantly lower in MA infants during heel pricks (MA:5.9(3.7), P: 8.3(4.7), p = 0.04). One-way ANCOVA modelling showed that MA was significantly associated with lower PIPP scores after controlling for analgesic use (p = 0.043). No differences in heart rate, oxygen saturation, analgesic use or adverse effects (e.g. local skin reactions) noted.

Conclusion: This pilot study shows that auricular MA is feasible in neonates and may reduce PIPP scores during heel pricks. Further study is required to determine the impact of MA on other painful or stressful conditions and on neurodevelopment.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Heel prick; Neonatal intensive care; Newborn; Pain relief.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects