Kids Follow Parents in Using Alternative Therapies

Boys less likely to use these treatments than girls, study finds

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TUESDAY, April 5, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine if their parents also use the therapies, according to new research.

A 1997 study found that 42 percent of American adults reported the use of these types of therapies -- and the rates were increasing. But, up till now, there's been little information on the popularity of these treatments among children and teens.

Researchers at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis analyzed 2002 claims data from two large private health insurers in Washington state.

Of more than 187,000 insured children, nearly 157,000 were listed on insurance claims. According to the researchers, just over 6 percent had visited a complementary or alternative medicine professional during that year.

"Not surprisingly, the most significant factor that determined whether a pediatric patient would use complementary or alternative medicine is whether an adult in the family used [it]," the investigators noted. In fact, parental use was by far the leading factor associated with children's use, they said.

Boys were less likely than girls to use these therapies, they added, while children with cancer and low back pain were especially likely to try out alternative/complementary treatments.

"Although use of chiropractic and massage was almost always for musculoskeletal complaints, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine filled a broader role," the study authors wrote.

The findings appear in the April issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

More information

For more on alternative therapies, go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 4, 2005

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