Pediatricians at AAP Meeting Warn Against Alternative RemediesPediatricians at AAP Meeting Warn Against Alternative Remedies
November 12, 2001
Pediatricians at AAP Meeting Warn Against Alternative Remedies
SAN FRANCISCO--Reuters media reported that during apresentation given Oct. 23 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) meeting,pediatricians stated that giving children alternative medicines might beharmful. Physicians argued that nutritional supplements and herbal products havenot been well tested in pediatric medicine and they may have dangerousconsequences.
Dr. Alan Woolf, pediatrics professor at Harvard University and head ofclinical toxicology at Childrens Hospital in Boston, reportedly voicedconcern about parents who use alternative therapy for themselves and then extendthis mode of treatment to their children, adding that adult doses may have toxiceffects in children. Also sharing this concern, Dr. Michael Artman, a professorof pediatrics at New York University, stated at the meeting that approximately20 percent of children are using some form of complementary therapy, and as manyas 30 to 40 percent of children with chronic diseases are utilizing alternativemedicine.
In a similar story printed in the Oct. 24 issue of USA Today, Scott Hoffingerof Oakland Childrens Hospital reported results of a study conducted inWashington, D.C., stating there are an unknown number of children usingalternative and complementary medicine. According to his report, 21 percent ofparents had treated their children with alternative therapies in the past year,with vitamins and herbs being the most common. In addition, 81 percent ofparents reported that they would like to discuss alternative modes of therapywith their childrens pediatricians; however, only 36 percent had actuallydone so.
According to Reuters, while Artman conceded that most alternative therapiesthat are safe for adults will also be safe for children, he stated, You dontwant a 17-year-old girl going in for surgery to be taking ginseng or garlic,because shell bleed and bleed. You want to know ahead of time.
The herbal supplement industry reaffirmed its stance that patients need todiscuss alternative medicine with their physicians. We absolutely support theadvice that pediatricians should ask, but we resent the idea that this is anherb problem, said Michael McGuffin, president of the American HerbalProducts Association (AHPA). This isnt an herb problem. This is adoctor-patient communication problem.
In fact, AHPA (www.ahpa.org)adopted a policy at its Oct. 10 meeting urging physicians to inquire about theirpatients use of alternative medicine. Our policy is essentially steeped inthe understanding that the relationship you have with your physician, whetheryour doctor is a pediatrician, oncologist, acupuncturist or naturopath, youought to disclose your use of herbal products, he said.
AAP previously addressed alternative therapy in pediatrics by publishingguidelines last June for doctors on how to work with families who use suchtherapies.
McGuffin also challenged the editorial content of the Reuters article, whichstated there is a lack of FDA regulation or quality control on what herbalproducts are allowed to contain, There is FDA regulation and quality controlon what products actually contain, he said. There is nothing in the lawthat says if you happen to be selling herbs you can put whatever you want inthere.
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