Use of Alternative Medicine is Increasing in Pediatrics

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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is common among children, especially children with chronic conditions. In a new study, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by Pediatric Specialty Outpatients,” published in the February 2013 Pediatrics (released online Jan. 14), the use of CAM therapies was compared between subspecialty clinics in two children’s hospitals in western and central Canada. Researchers found that many children seen at children's hospitals use CAM, and use is much greater in the western versus the central hospital. The most common CAM products used were vitamins/minerals, homeopathics, and herbal remedies. Massage, aromatherapy, and relaxation were the most common practices used. Almost half of all patients reported using CAM along with conventional medical care, and more than half reported concurrent use of CAM with prescription drugs. The majority of parents felt comfortable using CAM therapies, and would like more information from their clinic or hospital about the risks and benefits. Study authors conclude that there is a need for more research and safety data, and greater training for pediatricians about the safety and effectiveness of CAM therapies.