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Complementary Medicine for Kids with Chronic Conditions

Many children in Canada with chronic health conditions combine the use of prescription medicine with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, a good number of these children and their parents do not discuss these practices with their physician.

Sunita Vohra, a researcher with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and lead investigator on the study reports that more than 70% of pediatric patients seen in specialty clinics at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and more than 40% at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa use alternative medicine. However, almost 20% of the families who participated in the study never discussed the concurrent use of prescription and CAM with their physician or pharmacist.

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

There were about 80 reported adverse events, the majority of which (69%) were minor events.

Almost 80% of the parents felt comfortable to discuss the use of CAM use with their doctors but the rest did not consult with either a physician or a pharmacist about its use in their children. This may be a potential hazard to patients because of the potential for interactions,” they wrote, according to the researchers. More than half of the patients reported using CAM together with prescription drugs and most of them did report that use to their physician.

The authors note that many of the families obtain information about CAM from the internet, and from family or friends. However, they believe that it is more important to obtain such information from their doctor or other members of their health-care team, who are more knowledgeable  about possible drug interactions with prescription medicines.


University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry (2013, January 14). Alternative medicine use high among children with chronic conditions. ScienceDaily.

Posted in: Kid's Health, News Briefs

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