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Study Explores Alternative Medicine Use in Children

Nearly 9 million U.S. youths used complementary and alternative medicine therapies in 2007

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 8.7 million American adolescents and children used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in 2007, according to research published online Jan. 25 in Pediatrics.

Gurjeet S. Birdee, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 9,417 children and teens under the age of 18 years in the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. The survey asked about children's recent use of treatments such as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic manipulation, naturopathy, homeopathy, and guided imagery.

The researchers found that CAM use was more common in adolescents than children under the age of 5 years. Conditions associated with greater CAM use included anxiety or stress, dermatological problems, insomnia, nausea and sinusitis. Parental use of CAM was associated with child use (adjusted odds ratio, 3.83). CAM use was more common in the West, Northeast, and Midwest (adjusted odds ratios, 2.05, 1.36, and 1.35, respectively) than the South.

"Health care providers need to inquire about CAM use in households and advise patients appropriately regarding clinical efficacy, or lack thereof, and potential adverse interactions with herbs-drugs. Parents' use of CAM may suggest that their children may be using CAM as well," the authors conclude. "More research is necessary to establish evidence for CAM therapies among children. With more evidence of efficacy, physicians will be better able to guide patients to make safe and effective decisions regarding CAM use."

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