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Pediatricians Consider Alternatives

A recent survey shows 50 percent of pediatricians would consider referring patients for alternative medicine therapies.

      The survey, conducted by researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and the Medical University of South Carolina in South Charleston, S.C., questioned 348 members of the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. About 84 percent of those surveyed say their patients already use some form of complimentary medicine such herbal remedies, biofeedback and massage. But the survey also showed a discussion about alternative medicine was either initiated by the children or the parents, but not by the physicians.

      "We're probably at stage zero," Dr. Peter Rappo, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a physician in Brockton, Mass. Not enough physicians are asking patients whether they use any type of alternative medicine, Rappo says, adding that physicians also don't have a lot of scientific data on alternative medicine and pediatrics. It is unknown how many children use alternative treatments, he says.

      The survey also showed pediatricians felt alternative medicine could help in treating ailments such as headaches and backaches, and for pain management, but not for cancer, HIV or incurable diseases.

      "Clearly, there is a need and a demand for more education, along with clinical guidelines for complementary and alternative therapies within the context of biomedicine," the researchers write in the 1998 November issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

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