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Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment for pediatric conditions: A systematic review

Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2022/06, 31(online 2022/03/23):113-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2022.03.013, type of study: systematic review

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pediatrics [184]
children [147]
babies [11]
child [202]
osteopathic manipulative treatment [1896]
OMT [1871]
infantile colic [31]
crying infants [31]
preterm infants [9]
ADHD [11]
plagiocephaly [27]
torticollis [17]
postural asymmetry [9]
systematic review [213]


Background: Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is commonly used by osteopaths and osteopathic physicians to manage a large variety of pediatric complaints. Objective: The current study reviewed the literature to determine the effectiveness of OMT for all pediatric complaints. Methods: A systematic literature search for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) unrestricted by language or publication status was performed in July 2020 in electronic and ongoing trials databases. Included studies were assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias (RoB) instrument. Mean difference or standard mean difference and overall effect size were calculated. Data were synthesized using the GRADE approach. Results: Forty-seven RCTs examining 37 pediatric conditions were reviewed. Twenty-three studies reported significant favorable outcomes for OMT relative to the control intervention, and 14 additional studies reported non-significant outcomes, which suggested potential favorable effects of OMT. Fifteen of the studies were judged to have a low RoB, 12 had high risk, and the remainder had unclear RoB. Using GRADE, there was moderate evidence for the effectiveness of OMT for 13 of the 43 comparisons, particularly for length of hospital stay for preterm infants, but no high-quality evidence for any condition. Conclusions: Although a number of studies indicated positive results with use of OMT, few pediatric conditions have been investigated in more than one study, which results in no high-quality evidence for any condition. Additional research may change estimates of effect, and larger, high-quality RCTs focusing on a smaller range of conditions are recommended. Systematic review registration PROSPERO ID: CRD42020162479.

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