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: 1.72). 01/2013; 29(3). DOI: 10.1177/0883073812474489
Source: PubMed


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: Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence and predictors of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use as well as parental perceptions of CAM efficacy in a large, geographically diverse sample of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Methodology: Data were obtained from a web-based survey administered to parents of children with ASD at four sites participating in the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN). The web survey obtained information about services and treatments received by children with ASD as well as the caregivers' experiences with having a child with ASD. Results: Approximately 88% of the sample had either used CAM in the past or had recently used some type of CAM. The following characteristics were associated with CAM use: greater parental education, younger child age, a mix of regular and special classroom settings and prescription drug use in the past three months. Conclusions: The use of CAM was very prevalent in this large, geographically diverse sample of children with ASD. It is critical that providers be prepared to discuss the advantages and potential side effects with families to help them make well-informed health care decisions and prevent possible CAM-drug interactions.
    2014 International Meeting for Autism Research; 05/2014
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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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    Revista de la Sociedad Española del Dolor 12/2014; 21(6):338-344. DOI:10.4321/S1134-80462014000600007
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