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Objective 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 database until December 2008. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized controlled trials (NRCTs) were selected including yoga or yoga-based interventions for individuals aged from 0 to 21 years of age. Data were extracted and articles critically reviewed utilizing a modified Jadad score and descriptive methodological criteria with summarization in tables. Results Thirty four controlled studies were identified published from 1979 to 2008, with 19 RCTS and 15 NRCTs. Many studies were of low methodological quality. Clinical areas for which yoga has been studied include physical fitness, cardio-respiratory 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. While 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 utilizing a higher standard of methodology and reporting is warranted.
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