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Clinical Applications of Yoga for the Pediatric Population: A Systematic Review

  • Gurjeet S. Birdee
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Gurjeet Birdee, MD, Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School, 401 Park Drive, Suite 22-A West, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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  • Gloria Y. Yeh
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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  • Peter M. Wayne
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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  • Russell S. Phillips
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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  • Roger B. Davis
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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  • Paula Gardiner
    Affiliations
    From the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Wayne, Phillips, and Mr Davis); Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Birdee, Yeh, Phillips, and Davis); and Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr Gardiner)
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      Objective

      The aim of this study was to evaluate the evidence for clinical applications of yoga among the pediatric population.

      Methods

      We conducted an electronic literature search including CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), EMBASE, Medline, PsycINFO, and manual search of retrieved articles from inception of each database until December 2008. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized controlled trials (NRCTs) were selected that included yoga or yoga-based interventions for individuals aged 0 to 21 years. Data were extracted and articles critically reviewed using a modified Jadad score and descriptive methodological criteria, with summarization in tables.

      Results

      Thirty-four controlled studies published from 1979 to 2008 were identified, with 19 RCTS and 15 NRCTs. Many studies were of low methodological quality. Clinical areas for which yoga has been studied include physical fitness, cardiorespiratory effects, motor skills/strength, mental health and psychological disorders, behavior and development, irritable bowel syndrome, and birth outcomes following prenatal yoga. No adverse events were reported in trials reviewed. Although a large majority of studies were positive, methodological limitations such as randomization methods, withdrawal/dropouts, and details of yoga intervention preclude conclusive evidence.

      Conclusions

      There are limited data on the clinical applications of yoga among the pediatric population. Most published controlled trials were suggestive of benefit, but results are preliminary based on low quantity and quality of trials. Further research of yoga for children by using a higher standard of methodology and reporting is warranted.

      Key Words

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