Background: Support for breastfeeding has been a matter of considerable interest in healthcare. In the field of traditional and complementary medicine, the effectiveness of auricular therapy on lactation has been investigated by several clinical studies.
Aim and objectives: This review was mainly performed to assess the current evidence of auricular therapy on lactation. The objectives were to assess the current evidence of AT for lactation, examine the intervention protocols and outcome measures adopted by the studies included, and inform clinical application and future research in this area.
Study design: Systematic review.
Method: Narrative synthesis methodology was used to incorporate diverse forms of evidence within this systematic review.
Results: Twenty-three randomized controlled trials and three non-randomized controlled trials were identified, of which 25 studies applied auricular acupressure with vaccaria seeds as the sole form of auricular therapy. Relative risks calculated on the onset of lactation and milk production are all less than 1. These results indicate that women in the auricular therapy group lactated earlier than their counterparts in the control group and the risk of low milk production was reduced while on auricular therapy. Absolute risk differences showed magnitude of effect ranging from small to medium. Standardized mean differences calculated on serum prolactin data generally favor auricular therapy over routine care. Overall, mothers treated by auricular therapy exhibited better lactation outcomes.
Conclusion: The available data show evidence of benefits for postpartum lactation from auricular therapy. However, research using a more stringent design, standardized protocol, and valid outcome measures are warranted before it can be considered to be evidence-based practice. Issues from the current studies are highlighted and may serve to inform future trials.