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CAM Common in Children With Developmental Disabilities

Complementary/alternative medicine use commonly seen with ASD/other development disabilities

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is common among families of young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD), according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Roger Scott Akins, D.O., from University of California at Davis, and colleagues surveyed parents of 453 children with ASD and 125 children with DD (aged 2 to 5 years) participating in an ongoing population-based case-control study. Parents were questioned regarding utilization of CAM.

The researchers found that ASD families received significantly more hours of conventional services compared to DD (17.8 versus 11; P < 0.001). Use of CAM was similar in the two groups (39 percent in ASD versus 30 percent in DD). In both groups, Hispanic families used CAM less often than non-Hispanics. CAM use was not predicted by level of function, immunization status, and presence of an identified neurogenetic disorder. However, higher parental education was associated with increased CAM use in both groups. Families who utilized more hours per week of conventional services (more than 20 hours) were more likely to use CAM, including potentially unsafe or disproven CAM.

"Further research should address how health care providers can support families in making decisions about CAM use," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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