The use of homeopathic products in childhood: data generated over 8.5 years from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):69-79. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0007.


Background: Very little is known about the use of homeopathic products (HP) in children. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a population-based cohort in the South-West of England, has collected homeopathic data through self-completion questionnaires posted to the mother at regular time points throughout childhood. The aim of this article is to describe the use of these products in a large cohort of children from birth to 8.5 years of age.

Methods: Questions asked about the use of HP within a preceding time period at seven time points from birth to 8.5 years of age. Additional questions at 18 and 81 months asked about the conditions treated and at 81 months who had prescribed the HP.

Results: Eleven and eight-tenths percent (11.8%) of this cohort used a HP at least once up to 8.5 years of age. Chamomilla for teething and Arnica for soft-tissue bruising were the most commonly used products. The most frequently prescribed products were for common self-limiting infantile conditions such as colic, cuts and bruises, and teething. Parents were most likely at 81 months to prescribe HP for their children (46.3% of all prescription sources) and 10% of products were prescribed by general practitioners. Confusion about what constituted a HP was present in nearly 10% of answers.

Conclusions: No other study, to our knowledge, has been able to map the use of HP over such a long time period in such a large cohort of children. The amount of HP use reflects a significant minority of the population who use complementary and alternative medicine treatments to manage the health of their family. Health care professionals should be aware of the confusion surrounding HP and have knowledge around some of the more commonly used HP. Parents and carers are using homeopathy wisely with appropriate remedies consistently used for acute problems. Research could focus on greater information delivery to the community and monitoring of potential health and cost benefits, or side-effects of the use of HP for acute and chronic conditions in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colic / therapy
  • Contusions / therapy
  • England
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Homeopathy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Materia Medica / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tooth Eruption
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy


  • Materia Medica