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.