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Study shows complementary medicine use high among children with chronic health conditions

Research published today in Pediatrics finds that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is common among children, especially those who have been diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as asthma.

In the study, Canadian researchers surveyed 926 parents at two hospitals about their child's CAM use. The pediatrics patients were being treated for health conditions in one of the following areas: cardiology, neurology, oncology, gastroenterology or respiratory health. Healthland reports:

... half said their children had used the therapies at the same time they were taking conventional drugs, while 10% tried alternative therapies before turning to conventional treatments and 5% used CAM in place of conventional medicine. Yet many parents weren’t telling pediatricians that their children were using CAM, which could increase the possibility of dangerous interactions.

The most commonly used CAM therapies included massage, faith healing, chiropractic and aromatherapy, while the most popular products to treat conditions ranging from cancer to asthma and inflammatory bowel disease were vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies and homeopathic medicines.


In the U.S., a recent survey found that one in nine children had used alternative therapies to treat a health condition. Vohra says parents’ own beliefs about and reliance on CAM therapies is a major factor behind its use in children, as is parents’ desire to provide their children with every possible health option. “For most parents, their number one priority is the health of their children so they’re interested in exploring all options to promote their children’s health,” says [Sunita Vohra, MD, lead author of the study.] “Many parents consider all products that are available and seek out not only conventional health care but also complementary health care.”

Previously: NIH to host Twitter chat on complementary medicine and children, Study shows meditation may lower teens’ risk of developing heart disease, New NIH series offers consumer-friendly tips on complementary health practices and Report highlights how integrative medicine is used in the U.S.
Photo by Wellcome Images

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