Prevalence of complementary/alternative medicine for children: a systematic review

Eur J Pediatr. 1999 Jan;158(1):7-11. doi: 10.1007/s004310051000.


Complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) has become an important topic, not least because of its popularity with patients. This systematic review is aimed at summarising the data known about CAM use in paediatric populations. A thorough search strategy was designed to identify all surveys on the prevalence of CAM utilisation in children. Data from those investigations that met the pre-defined criteria for inclusion were extracted and reported in a standardised fashion. Ten studies were found. Their results suggest that the prevalence of CAM use is variable but generally high. CAM is often perceived as helpful. Insufficient data exist about safety and cost.

Conclusion: The generally high and possibly growing prevalence of complementary/alternative medicine use by children renders this topic an important candidate for rigorous investigation. In particular, we should determine the efficacy, safety and expense of these treatments through rigorous, unbiased investigations.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Complementary Therapies / economics
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Complementary Therapies / trends
  • Humans
  • Prevalence