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CHILDREN

Sweden to split siblings in deportation case

Sweden is set to split two siblings from their younger sister as they are deported to Serbia along with their mother who left them in such a state of neglect that child services intervened in 2009.

When child protection services intervened, the 5-year-old son was spending hours simply cycling around and around his neighbourhood in Halmstad, southern Sweden.

His disabled 8-year-old sister was found tied to a chair, while the then 1-year old toddler was found sitting in her own faeces.

The baby has a Swedish father and has the right to stay on in Sweden.

Yet despite going through the entire Migration Board (Migrationsverket) appeals process, the two older children will not be allowed to stay. Their 26-year-old mother told Sveriges Television (SVT) that she looks forward to being reunited with her children.

The foster mother of the disabled daughter, however, likens the decision to a death sentence.

“I think in the long term this means she’ll die, that’s what’s waiting for her,” the foster mum told SVT.

The Migration Board, however, says it is not its job to make a judgment about whether the biological mother is a fit parent or not.

“There is still a very strong tie between the children and their mother,” spokeswoman Annette Bäcklund said.

The Migration Board on Tuesday told the regional Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper that it would review the case and see if there were adequate support structures for the children in Serbia.

“We’ll get in touch with child protection services and look at their documents,” spokesperson Fredrik Bengtsson told GP.

TT/The Local/at

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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.