The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” Complementary medicine augments conventional treatment, while alternative medicine is used instead of conventional treatment. For the most part, there is little scientific evidence to support the use of CAM therapies.
NCCAM divides CAM therapies into several domains:
Counseling Families Who Choose CAM Therapies
Only 20% of the parents of children with a chronic illness reported non-prescribed dietary supplement use to the child’s health care provider. The reasons that parents gave for not discussing dietary supplement use with their child’s health care provider included not perceiving it as important, feeling that the doctor would react negatively, and not having the doctor ask about CAM therapies. Misinformation/unrealistic promises regarding CAM therapies are perpetuated via the internet, supplement manufacturers/distributors, and some CAM providers. Why do parents of children with chronic illness/disability choose CAM therapies?
American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations for Pediatricians Who Discuss Alternative, Complementary, and Unproven Therapies with Families includes:
Free, online CME seminars (registration required) are available from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at http://nccam.nih.gov/videolectures/
Reviews of CAM Therapies for Specific Developmental Disabilities
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)? Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/. Accessed 9/27/05.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camsurvey_fs1.htm. Accessed 9/27/05.
Harris AB. Evidence of Increasing Dietary Supplement Use in Children with Special Health Care Needs: Strategies for Improving Parent and Professional Communication. J Amer Diet Assoc. 2005; 105 (1): 34-37.
Ball SD, Kertesz D, and Moyer-Mileur LJ. Dietary Supplement Use Is Prevalent Among Children with a Chronic Illness. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005: 105: 78-84.
Hyman SL and Levy SE. Introduction: Novel Therapies in Developmental Disabilities – Hope, Reason, and Evidence. MRDD Research Reviews. 2005; 11: 107-109.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Children with Disabilities. Counseling Families Who Choose Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Their Child With Chronic Illness or Disability. Pediatrics. 2001; 107(3): 598-601.
Harrington JW, Rosen L, Garnecho A, Patrick PA. Parental perceptions and Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practices for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Private Practice. Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics 2006: 156-161.
Theodore A. Kastner, M.D., M.S.
Robin L. Hansen, M.D.
Patrick J. Maher, M.D.
Terrance D. Wardinsky, M.D.
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