CAM use by Canadian kids is high

January 16 2013

by alex

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In a survey of parents of children at subspecialty clinics in Canada, researchers found that many of the children used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to supplement their care, researchers found.

71% of children in a western Canadian hospital (Edmonton) and 42% of those in a central Canadian hospital (Ottawa) reported using CAM, including vitamins, minerals, massage, and chiropractic.

The most common CAM products used were multivitamins and minerals (85%), herbal products (15.6%), and homeopathic remedies (11.5%). The most common CAM practices were massage (39.1%), chiropractic (20.3%), relaxation (16.1%), and aromatherapy (16.1%).

It is a bit interesting that they defined the use of multivitamins and minerals as CAM since few would actually consider these as such. Regardless, it is concerning that 20% of parents did not volunteer this information to their children’s physicians. 60% expressed a desire to get more information on CAM from their physicians.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by Pediatric Specialty Outpatients

Denise Adams, Simon Dagenais, Tammy Clifford, Lola Baydala, W. James King, Marilou Hervas-Malo, David Moher, Sunita Vohra
Pediatrics 2013: epub January 14, 2013
doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1220


OBJECTIVE: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is high among children and youth with chronic illnesses. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and patterns of CAM use in 10 subspecialty clinics in Canada and to compare CAM use between 2 geographically diverse locations.

METHODS: This survey was carried out at 1 Children’s Hospital in western Canada (Edmonton) and 1 Children’s Hospital in central Canada (Ottawa). Questionnaires were completed by parents in either French or English.

RESULTS: Although demographic characteristics of the 2 populations were similar, CAM use at the western hospital was 71% (n = 704) compared with 42% (n = 222) at the central hospital (P < .0001). Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they feel comfortable discussing CAM in their clinic. The most common CAM products currently used were multivitamins/minerals, herbal products, and homeopathic remedies. The most common CAM practices currently used were massage, chiropractic, relaxation, and aromatherapy. Eighty adverse effects were reported, and 55 (68.8%) of these were self-assessed as minor.

CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study indicate that CAM use is high among pediatric specialty clinic outpatients and is much greater in the western than in the central hospital. Most respondents felt that their CAM use was helpful with few or no harms associated. Many patients, using CAM alongside their conventional medicines, are still not discussing their CAM use with their physicians and are increasing the likelihood for potential interactions and preventable harms.

doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1220