Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: Associations With Ethnicity, Child Comorbid Symptoms, and Parental Stress

1Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, R. F. Kennedy Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.
Journal of child neurology (Impact Factor: 1.67). 01/2013; 29(3). DOI: 10.1177/0883073812474489
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The use of complementary and alternative medicine by children with autism and the association of its use with child comorbid symptoms and parental stress was studied in an ethnically diverse population, in a cross-sectional study with structured interviews. The sample included 50 families of children with autism and 50 families of children with other developmental disabilities, matched by age/gender. Interview included the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Questionnaire, Gastrointestinal Questionnaire, Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire, Aberrant Behavior Checklist, and Parenting Stress Index. In this ethnically diverse sample, the use of complementary and alternative medicine was significantly higher for the autism group. In the autism group, use was significantly related to child's irritability, hyperactivity, food allergies, and parental stress; in the developmental disabilities group, there was no association with child comorbid symptoms or parental stress. The results contribute information to health care providers about families of children with autism who are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine.

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    ABSTRACT: Research Open Access High use of complementary and alternative medication among children with autism is not associated with the severity of core symptoms Abstract Background: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). No study has examined individual, family and clinical characteristics associated with CAM use. Methods: Parents of 169 Australian children with a clinical diagnosis of ASD completed a questionnaire about socio-demographics, medical history and CAM use. Children were administered the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Results: The majority (54%) of this sample had used CAM. Fish oil was the most common type of CAM administered (48% of total sample) and the most common reason for CAM use was to ameliorate non-core ASD symptoms such as hyperactivity and irritability. Chi-square analyses identified no differences between CAM and non-CAM users in gender, age of child, age at diagnosis, parental age at birth, parental education, ethnicity or family income. No group differences in the proportion of children classified with different ASD, based on clinical diagnosis and ADOS severity scores were observed. CAM users (37%) were more likely than non-CAM users (22%) to take psychotropic medication (p<0.05). Conclusions: This study provided evidence for high rate of CAM use in an Australian paediatric ASD population, similar to other countries. CAM use was not associated with core ASD deficits. There is a clear need for robust evidence to determine complex influencing factors on CAM uptake and its efficacy on ASD core and non-core symptoms with a view to assist with parental informed decisions and clinical guidelines.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the prevalence and correlates of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among a sample of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) < 7 years in 18 European countries (N = 1,680). Forty-seven percent of parents reported having tried any CAM approach in the past 6 months. Diets and supplements were used by 25 % of the sample and mind-body practices by 24 %; other unconventional approaches were used by 25 % of the families, and a minority of parents reported having tried any invasive or potentially harmful approach (2 %). Parents in Eastern Europe reported significantly higher rates of CAM use. In the total sample, children with lower verbal ability and children using prescribed medications were more likely to be receiving diets or supplements. Concurrent use of high levels of conventional psychosocial intervention was significantly associated with use of mind-body practices. Higher parental educational level also increased the likelihood of both use of diets and supplements and use of mind-body practices. The high prevalence of CAM use among a sample of young children with ASD is an indication that parents need to be supported in the choice of treatments early on in the assessment process, particularly in some parts of Europe. What is Known: • Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in children with autism spectrum disorder is common. • In non-EU samples, parents with higher educational level and parents of low functioning children are more likely to use CAM with their children. What is New: • This study provides the first data on prevalence and correlates of use of CAM approaches in a large sample of young children with autism in Europe (N = 1,680). • Rates of CAM use were particularly high in Eastern Europe and correlates of use varied by type of CAM across Europe.
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