Does acupuncture increase the likelihood of a birth in women undergoing in vitro fertilization?

May 15, 2018

Bottom Line: Acupuncture among women undergoing in vitro fertilization didn't affect live birth rates.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Acupuncture is widely used by women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), although there is conflicting evidence about its effect.

Who and When: 824 women undergoing IVF in Australia and New Zealand between June 2011 and October 2015, with follow-up until August 2016.

What (Study Interventions and Outcomes): Women received either acupuncture or a "sham" acupuncture procedure (where a noninvasive needle was placed away from the true acupuncture points) around the time of ovarian stimulation and embryo transfer (interventions); live birth (delivery of one or more living infants at greater than 20 weeks' gestation or birth weight of at least 14.1 ounces) (outcomes)

How (Study Design): This was a randomized clinical trial (RCT). RCTs allow for the strongest inferences to be made about the true effect of an intervention. However, not all RCT results can be replicated in real-world settings because patient characteristics or other variables may differ from those that were studied in the RCT.

Authors: Caroline A. Smith, Ph.D., Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia, and coauthors

Results: The rate of live births was 18.3 percent among women who received acupuncture and 17.8 percent among women who had the "sham" procedure, which resulted in a nonsignificant difference in live birth rates.

Study Limitations: The planned study sample size could not be achieved; the stage of embryo transfer was not balanced between the study groups; and the length of the treatment intervention was short.
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For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2018.5336)

Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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JAMA

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