January 12, 2009

1 in 9 U.S. kids uses alternative medicine

Nearly 12 percent of U.S. children under age 18 use some form of complementary and alternative medicine, a national government survey indicated.

The survey -- the U.S. government's first to include children's use of health practices and products that don't fall within the realm of conventional Western medicine -- also found that about 38 percent of U.S. adults use complementary and alternative medicine.

Surveyors asked about 36 types of alternative or complementary therapies commonly used in the United States. These included provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and those that don't require a provider, such as herbal supplements and meditation.

Children used alternative therapies in 2007 mostly for back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, said the survey, developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Children's most commonly used alternative therapies included non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural products (3.9 percent); chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (2.8 percent); deep breathing exercises (2.2 percent); and yoga (2.1 percent).

Children were five times more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine if a parent or other relative also used it, the survey found.

The survey involved more than 23,300 interviews with U.S. adults and more than 9,400 interviews with adults on behalf a child in their household.