When a child has asthma, parents may be inclined to look for any kind of treatment that claims to help. A recent study from the University of Montreal showed that approximately 13 percent of parents in Canada looked to alternative medicine to find treatments for their children. The study also found that these children were twice as likely to have poor asthma control.
Previous studies have shown that up to 60 percent of parents in the United States believe alternative medicine, including acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic treatment, or herbal therapy is helpful in treating asthma in children. Yet Franceine Ducharme, a professor at the University of Montreal and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center said that studies do not support the beliefs of these parents. Ducharme also said, “Our findings confirm that children using complementary or alternative medicine are twice as likely to have poor asthma control than those that don't."
The researchers believe parents who turn to alternative medicine to treat their children often do not understand the potential risks involved with these treatments including:
• Adverse reactions to alternative medicine treatments
• Possibility of interactions with conventional treatments or therapies
• Tendency to delay giving conventional therapy
• Poor compliance with conventional preventative treatments such as not taking prescribed medications on the recommended schedule
The Montreal researchers polled parents of over 2,000 children who came to the Asthma Center at Montreal Children’s Hospital over eight years. Parents completed questionnaires that asked what, if any type of alternative medicine they used to treat their children’s asthma. The results showed that most of the children receiving alternative treatments were under the age of 6. Ducharme said, “This is particularly troublesome, given that there is no evidence that these therapies are effective and preschool aged children suffer more asthma flare-ups requiring an emergency department visit than all other age groups.”