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CHILDREN

Swedish teacher taped toddlers mouths shut

A teacher at a kindergarten in Hyssna in the west of Sweden taped shut the mouths of four children because they were being loud.

“This is a question of violation and physical assault,” Sussie Pettersson and Sandra Börjesson, the mothers of two of the boys whose mouths were taped, told the Expressen/GT newspaper.

“We can hardly believe it happened,” they continued.

Börjesson found out about the incident when she picked up her three-year-old son from the kindergarten. The teacher joked about having taped his and other children’s mouths because they were being noisy.

“She told me how she had first said to the children: ‘If you don’t calm down I will tape your mouths shut’. When they didn’t calm down she wanted to follow out the threat,” said Börjesson.

A few days later the three-year-old told his mother that he wanted to tape her mouth shut.

“What if he had a younger sibling and tried to do the same to them? It could have had devastating consequences.”

Pettersson said the teacher had told her about taping shut her four-year-old son’s mouth, too, but she was too shocked to react on the spot.

“I work within child care myself and this is completely unthinkable. My son told me it hurt when the tape was pulled off his mouth,” said Pettersson.

The two mothers feel that the kindergarten principal has not taken the incident, which occurred in September, seriously enough.

A protocol from an internal meeting at the kindergarten cites the principal as saying that the teacher should not have told the parents about the incident.

The principal and the teacher, who is a recent graduate, have expressed regret over the incident.

The case has been referred to the union which will determine whether or not the teacher will receive a written reprimand in addition to the verbal warning. According to the principal the teacher has also been assigned a mentor.

The Local/nr

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HEALTH

Acupuncture could help your baby stop crying: study

Swedish researchers say acupuncture "appears to reduce crying" in babies suffering from colic.

Acupuncture could help your baby stop crying: study
File photo of a five-week old baby. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

But their work was criticized by colleagues in the medical field, with one calling the study methodology “appalling”.

A duo from Lund University's medicine faculty tested the traditional Chinese needle-piercing remedy in a trial involving nearly 150 babies between two and eight weeks old.

They reported their results in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, published by the BMJ – formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

Compared to babies who did not undergo the needle treatment, infants who received acupuncture over two weeks exhibited “a significant relative reduction” in crying, the team found.

Such research can be controversial. Acupuncture is invasive, potentially painful, and its benefits are not universally accepted.

Organizations such as the British Medical Acupuncture Society says it is used to treat muscle and postoperative pain, as well as nausea.

But some think acupuncture's effects are that of a placebo, meaning people feel better because they believe it works. The National Institutes of Health, the main UN research agency, says there is “considerable controversy” around its value.

Colic affects as many as one in five families, and is diagnosed when a baby cries for more than three hours per day on more than three days per week.

Why it occurs is not well understood. Indigestion, trapped wind and intolerance to cows' milk have been identified as possible causes.

For the study, colicky babies were divided into three groups of 49. One received “minimal” acupuncture treatment, while another was given up to five 30-second needlings per session. The third group was not given any needle treatment.

“Significantly fewer infants who received acupuncture continued to cry/fuss excessively,” the researchers concluded.

This suggested “acupuncture may be an effective treatment option” for babies crying more than three hours a day.


File photo of an adult person receiving acupuncture. Photo: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Criticism of the study was harsh. David Colquhoun, a professor of pharmacology at University College London, described the researchers' analysis of data as “incompetent” and “appalling”.

The study “certainly doesn't show that it [acupuncture] works”, he told the Science Media Centre.

“What parent would think that sticking needles into their baby would stop it crying? The idea sounds bizarre. It is.”

Edzard Ernst from the University of Exeter said the study showed “almost the opposite of what the authors conclude”.

“We know that colicky babies respond even to minimal attention, and this trial confirms that a little additional TLC” – Tender Loving Care – “will generate an effect”.

A total of 388 acupuncture treatments were performed on the babies, the authors reported. On 200 occasions the infant did not cry at all after being pierced, 157 times they cried for up to a minute, and 31 times for more than that.

“The acupuncturists reported bleeding (a single drop of blood) on 15 occasions,” the authors said.

The treatment “may be considered ethically acceptable” if it managed to reduce excessive crying in the longer term, they added.

The report did not indicate what acupuncture points were used.

Article written by AFP's Mariètte Le Roux.