I didn’t mention this article when it first came out as it is so obviously nonsense. It came back to my attention as there is a really well done deconstruction on the blog ‘Science Based Medicine‘ which I strongly recommend as a regular web destination. I learnt from this new post that the AAP have had the godawful idea to include the publication in their AAP grand rounds!
This is a profoundly flawed RCT of just over a 100 preterm infants (between 28 and 37 weeks gestation) randomized to either usual care or wishful thinking. Many of the flaws are well described on Science Based Medicine. One flaw which is not discussed there is the failure to do an Intention to Treat analysis, in fact there were 8 babies of 55 in the OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy) group and 1 in the controls that were not analyzed for various reasons. The babies had an average gestational age of 34 weeks, but nevertheless a mean length of stay of 31 days in the controls, which is far longer than 34 week babies stay in my NICU. Supposedly the length of stay was decreased to 26 by messing about with them, but an easier way to reduce length of stay is to just delete the data from some babies who had long stays!
Most importantly Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy is nonsense. It is pseudo-scientific hocus-pocus, and subjecting fragile preterm babies to it is unethical. Why BMC Pediatrics published this and why on earth the AAP have given it a wider readership is completely unclear to me. Next they will be promoting ear candling and homeopathy, or suggesting that immunization causes autism.