Complementary & Alternative Medicine in Children

In 1998 the National Institutes of Health established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Some of their findings include:

  • The 2007 National Health Interview Survey gathered information on CAM use among more than 9,000 children aged 17 and under.
  • Nearly 12 percent of children had used some form of CAM during the past 12 months. At that time, 4.8% of CAM use in children was for anxiety, 2.5% was for ADHD and 1.8% was for insomnia.
  • In addition, a 2001 survey of 745 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 87 percent of pediatricians had been asked about CAM therapies by a patient or a parent in the 3 months prior to the survey.
  • The NCCAM advises parents to seek information from scientific studies about the safety and efficacy of specific CAM therapies in children. However, since few, if any, rigorous studies in young people exist, additional scientific studies are needed. Anecdotes and testimonials (personal stories) about CAM therapies are common and can be compelling, but they are not evidence.  NCCAM currently has 86 clinical trials that are either open or in the process of recruiting subjects.
  • In January 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that parents were giving their children a compound created for use in industrial mining, called OSR#1, advertised as “a powerful lipophilic antioxidant to help maintain healthy glutathione levels”.  This is a compound used to chelate heavy metals in Industrial mining!
  • A NCCAM-filtered Pubmed search identifies 1096 citations when the keywords “children mental health” are used.

There are several types of complementary therapies that are commonly used to treat children with neurodevelopmental disorders:

  • Nutritional
  • Immunomodulation
  • Biochemical/Metabolic
  • Detoxification
  • Sensory Integration Therapy
  • Music and other Expressive Therapies
  • Additional Therapies