A recent report has shown that some new parents are using the means of unconventional treatments or complementary therapy, for example, acupuncture or herbal products, when their children are sick but purposely withholding this information from their child’s pediatrician. Such omissions could be risky, especially when these young patients are already taking conventional medication. 

According to lead author Dr. Hilary McClafferty, “the point we’re making in this report is that many of our young patients are already using these [complementary] therapies … much of that use is driven by the consumer, by parents looking for additional help for their children … a lot of parents are not necessarily disclosing this use to their child’s pediatrician, for fear of censure or ridicule.”

When parents fail to mention certain methods, it can lead to both potential medical problems and a disconnection between patient and professional. Dr. McClafferty explains that doctors are “really excited about some of the advances in the field of complementary medicine and research,” but stresses on the importance of transparent discussion on need, safety, and proper use.

“So, what we are saying here is that it’s very important to encourage pediatricians to become well-informed about complementary medicine and about what the research shows. And to discuss all of this openly with parents”, McClafferty added.

According to Lorenzo Cohen, director of the integrative medicine program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, disclosing this type of information “needs to be part of the standard of care in terms of dialogues between informed physicians and parents. The days are over where physicians can just say, ‘Well, I don’t know much about it.’ They need to find out, and they need to talk about it with their patients.”

To learn more about the report, the risks, and impact of complementary therapy use in children, please refer to this HealthDay article here. Pediatric integrative medicine is a rapidly evolving field with the great potential to improve the quality of preventive health in children and expand treatment options for children living with chronic disease. This book, Integrative Pediatrics, provides an up-to-date, clear and evidence-based overview of the field.