Mumps is an acute, viral illness transmitted by respiratory droplets and saliva. A number of studies published in China have suggested that acupuncture is beneficial for children with mumps but the literature reporting the benefits or harms of acupuncture for mumps has not been systematically reviewed.
To determine the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for children with mumps.
We searched CENTRAL (2012, Issue 4), MEDLINE (1950 to April week 4, 2012), EMBASE (1974 to May 2012), CINAHL (1981 to May 2012), AMED (1985 to May 2012), the Chinese BioMedicine Database (CBM) (1979 to May 2012), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) (1979 to May 2012), Chinese Technology Periodical Database (CTPD) (1989 to May 2012) and WANFANG database (1982 to May 2012). We also handsearched a number of journals (from first issue to current issue).
We included randomised controlled trials comparing acupuncture with placebo acupuncture, no management, Chinese medication, Western medication or other treatments for mumps. Acupuncture included either traditional acupuncture or contemporary acupuncture, regardless of the source of stimulation (body, electro, scalp, fire, hand, fine needle, moxibustion).
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed the quality of included studies. We calculated risk ratios (RR) with their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the effective percentage and standardised mean differences (SMD) with 95% CIs for the time to cure.
Only one study with 239 participants met our inclusion criteria. There were a total of 120 participants in the acupuncture group, of which 106 recovered, with their temperature returning back to normal and no swelling or pain of the parotid gland; the condition of 14 participants improved, with a drop in temperature and alleviation of swelling or pain of the parotid gland. There were 119 participants in the Western medicine group, of which 56 recovered and the condition of 63 improved. The acupuncture group had a higher recovery rate than the control group. The relative RR of recovery was 1.88 (95% CI 1.53 to 2.30). However, the acupuncture group had a longer time to cure than the control group. The mean was 4.20 days and the standard deviation (SD) was 0.46 in the acupuncture group, while in the control group the mean was 3.78 days and the SD was 0.46.There was a potential risk of bias in the study because of low methodological quality.
We could not reach any confident conclusions about the efficacy and safety of acupuncture based on one study. More high-quality research is needed.
Plain language summary
Acupuncture for mumps in children
Acupuncture has been used to treat children with mumps for hundreds of years in China. Benefits attributed to acupuncture include decreased swelling and pain, and shortening of the disease duration. According to traditional Chinese medicine, health is achieved by maintaining an uninterrupted flow of Qi, or energy, along 14 meridians. Mumps is caused by ‘wind warmth evil’ (epidemic heat) and ‘pyretic toxicity’ accumulated in Shaoyang and Yangming meridians, thus the flow of Qi, sputum and ‘heat evil’ stagnate in and around the ears and the cheeks. Acupuncture can help expel ‘wind warmth evil’, clear pathogenic heat, remove toxic substances, act as an anti-inflammatory, alleviate pain and re-establish the normal flow of Qi, thus restoring internal balance.
Although acupuncture has been widely used in China for children with mumps and quite a number of trials claiming to be randomised controlled trials have been published, we identified only one study with 239 participants that met our inclusion criteria. The study results suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial in improving swelling and pain of the parotid gland and returning the body temperature to normal. However, the included study is of low methodological quality and did not report adverse effects and long-term follow-up. Therefore, we could not draw any definite conclusions about the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for children with mumps.