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Few Kids Get Alternative Medicine

Not many pediatricians recommend complementary therapies to patients

TUESDAY, Nov. 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Many pediatricians don't feel comfortable discussing or recommending complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies for their patients, says a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study in the November issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics.

The survey of 750 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that lack of knowledge about CAM therapies and concerns about side effects or delays in seeking medical care were the main reasons pediatricians were reluctant to recommend CAM therapies.

"Fewer than 5 percent said they were knowledgeable about CAM therapies and the majority were only somewhat familiar with widely used therapies such as dietary supplements, chiropractic or massage therapies," study author and pediatrician Dr. Kathi J. Kemper said in a prepared statement.

During routine office visits, most of the pediatricians asked more than 75 percent of their patients about their use of prescription and non-prescription drugs. But the pediatricians were far less likely to ask patients about their use of herbs, special diets, dietary supplement, or care from chiropractors, massage therapists or acupuncturists.

But the survey found that 87 percent of patients had asked their pediatricians about CAM therapies in the previous three months.

"More than 60 percent of pediatricians surveyed felt that CAM therapies could enhance recovery or relieve symptoms. However, we need to provide resources for pediatricians to help educate them about the pros and cons of individual CAM therapies to allow them to answer their patient's questions and plan their treatment," Kemper said.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Therapy has more about CAM.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Nov. 16, 2004
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