Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

CAM Use Is Common among Families with Autistic Children

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

CAM Use Is Common among Families with Autistic Children

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- The use of complementary and alternative medicine is very common among children with autistic spectrum disorders, according to two poster presentations at the annual meeting of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Seventy-four percent of the 112 families of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) from Children's Hospital in Boston reported having used some type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). A Canadian study showed 91% of 183 families surveyed had used a CAM of any type.

"People are doing a lot of things that they aren't telling their pediatrician about, unless they ask," Leonard Rappaport, M.D., director of the developmental medicine center at Children's Hospital, Boston, said. "This is something that needs to be reinforced continually with pediatricians."

The most common CAM therapies were modified diet (38%), vitamins/minerals (30%), food supplements (23%), and prayer/shaman (16%), according to the Boston study, led by Ellen Hanson, Ph.D.

"No one in our group would say there is a cure for autistic spectrum disorders, but if you go online you'll find 20-30 sites that say there is a potential cure," Dr. Rappaport said. "I doubt any of these things work appreciably, but it helps the family find some peace when they are working so hard to help their children."

The most frequently used interventions were conventional therapies such as educational techniques (89%), sensory therapies (71%), and prescription drugs (50%). CAM use was associated with having a more severe form of ASD. …

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