In newborn infants with traumatic birth, how effective is cranial osteopathy or other alternative medicine treatments, compared with conventional care/advice in reducing crying, improving feeding or improving motor tone?

The BEST in MH search strategy did not identify any systematic reviews or trials of alternative medicine treatments in newborn infants with traumatic birth. A recent, well-conducted systematic review of the effect of cranial osteopathy on infantile colic did not identify any relevant trials.

Two well-conducted systematic reviews of baby massage were identified. In one (14 studies), massage compared with no treatment was found to benefit preterm or low birth weight infants in terms of weight gain and reduced hospital stay. However, the included studies contained serious methodological flaws and so these findings should be interpreted with caution.

In the other, evidence from 22 studies suggest that massage compared with no treatment improved mother-infant interaction, sleep and relaxation, reduced crying and had a beneficial impact on a number of hormones controlling stress in healthy, full-term babies less than 6 months old. The only evidence for an effect on growth came from 13 trials which contained a high risk of bias.