|Parents Seek Alternative Therapies for Their Children
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is becoming more and more
popular among Americans, and studies have found that many parents are eager to
see how they might use these therapies to help their children.
Parents are turning to CAM in part because they have found that many common
childhood ailments (such as frequent respiratory illnesses, asthma, headaches,
and nosebleeds) that have not responded well to traditional medicine have been
successfully managed with alternative options such as vitamins, herbs,
supplements, and dietary changes. Other CAM therapies have also been explored
and used successfully to treat children for everything from attention deficit
disorder to bed-wetting. Biofeedback, imagery, relaxation therapy, massage,
hypnosis, and acupuncture are employed in pediatric pain management centers.
Many CAM practitioners (such as homeopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, and
acupuncturists) are available and have been specially trained to treat children.
However, several obstacles face parents as they try to embrace CAM care for
their children. Most parents interested in CAM would like to discuss their
thoughts with their child's doctor, but hesitate for fear that their doctor will
respond negatively and think them less capable parents. One group of parents
surveyed in the Washington, D.C., area seem to represent the dilemma well:
although parents reported turning to alternative medicines such as vitamins and
herb supplements to treat their children for frequent childhood complaints and
wishing to discuss these decisions with their child's doctor, few did. Many
hoped their child's physician would be the one to start the conversation.
Cost also makes CAM therapies unattainable for some. Chiropractic is the CAM
most often covered by health insurance, but it frequently requires many
treatments, which lead to high out-of-pocket expense. This is also true for
acupuncture. Few acupuncture visits are covered by insurance, although a
majority of practitioners do offer sliding scale fees.
The good news is that these obstacles can be overcome. Parent's strong
interest in CAM for their kids will drive further evaluation of the
cost-effectiveness, safety, and efficacy of CAM treatments for children. In the
meantime, parents need to get comfortable talking with their child's doctor
about CAM. Most doctors are following the developments in CAM with the same
interest as parents are. If you are a parent exploring CAM therapies for your
child, your child's physician needs to know what treatments you are
considering so that he or she can effectively work with you to provide
"the best of both worlds" and maximize your child's health care.
To find out more about various CAM therapies contact the following
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
American Chiropractic Association
National Center for Homeopathy
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
General resources for further reading on CAM:
Kemper K. The Holistic Pediatrician: A Parent's Comprehensive Guide to
Safe and Effective Therapies for the 25 Most Common Childhood Ailments. New
York, NY: Harper Perennial; 1996.
Murray M, Pizzorno J. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Rev
2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing; 1998.
All references from abstracts presented at The Pediatric Academic Societies'
Annual Meeting May 1999. Authors and links located at www.onemedicine.com.
|Review Date: October 1999|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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