Background: Although very little scientific data exists on the efficacy and side effects of complementary and alternative medicines, their profile and availability is increasing. Use among Irish children is unknown.
Aims: To determine the nature and prevalence of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) use in our paediatric population.
Methods: Parental questionnaires were distributed in 13 paediatric settings over a 4-month period.
Results: There were 57% of parents reported using CAM for their child. Use was significantly higher in the 2-4 years age group (34/105, 32%, P = 0.005). The commonest medicinal CAMs used were vitamins (88%), fish oils (27%) and Echinacea (26%). The commonest non-medicinal CAMs used were homeopathy (16%) and craniosacral therapy (14%). Use varied between paediatric specialties, with the highest in neurological patients (23/25, 92%, P = 0.005). Only 13% of parents had informed their Paediatrician of their child's CAM use.
Conclusions: More than half of the children surveyed had used some form of CAM, usually without their Paediatrician's knowledge.