The use of complementary and alternative medicine, such as probiotics, herbal treatments and osteopathy, for children has almost doubled in the past decade, according to research published today.
University of Otago, Christchurch Paediatric Department head Associate Professor Andrew Day, a member of the Australasian research team, said the Sydney-based study, which was relevant to New Zealand, showed 67 per cent of children seen by paediatricians had been given complementary or alternative medicine.
This was almost double the number compared to a similar study in 2002.
The treatments were mainly for reflux and constipation and included traditional Chinese medicine, herbalism, homeopathy, aromatherapy, chiropractic, massage, nutritional therapies, osteopathy, probiotics and reflexology. The most commonly used were probiotics and nutritional supplements.
Prof Day said many parents used the treatments in combination with conventional medical treatment to deal with chronic conditions -- some to deal with side-effects of their child's condition or medication, as well as feeling dissatisfied with traditional treatments available.
Two thirds said the alternative medicine was effective for their child.
Many parents tried complementary or alternative medicine on the advice of friends and family but doctors or other health professionals had suggested they use it in 45 per cent of cases.

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