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Complementary and alternative medicine use in a large pediatric autism sample.

TitleComplementary and alternative medicine use in a large pediatric autism sample.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPerrin, JM, Coury, DL, Hyman, SL, Cole, L, Reynolds, AM, Clemons, TE
JournalPediatrics
Volume130
PaginationS77-82
Date PublishedNov
KeywordsAdolescent, AIM, Autistic Disorder/th [Therapy], Child, Complementary Therapies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, IM, Male, Preschool
Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), usually along with other medical care. This study aimed to determine associations of ASD diagnostic category, co-existing conditions, and use of medications with use of CAM. METHODS: We used the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network patient registry, which collects information on CAM use, medical conditions, and psychotropic medication at enrollment. CAM was categorized as special diets versus "other" CAM; ASD was defined as autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), or Asperger's. Gastrointestinal symptoms, seizure disorders, sleep problems, and medication use were determined from parent report. Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) scores were used to measure behavioral symptoms. Logistic regression was used to determine associations of diagnostic category, other medical conditions, and medication use with CAM treatments, controlling for demographic characteristics. RESULTS: Of 3413 subjects in the registry as of April 2011, 3173 had complete data on CAM use: 896 (28%) reported any use; 548 (17%), special diets; and 643 (20%), other CAM. Higher rates of CAM use were associated with gastrointestinal symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 1.88), seizures (OR = 1.58), and CBCL total score >70 (OR = 1.29). Children with PDD (OR = 0.62), Asperger's (OR = 0.66), or using medications (0.69) had lower rates. CONCLUSIONS: Children with ASD use more CAM when they have co-existing gastrointestinal symptoms, seizure disorders, and behavior problems. This study suggests the importance of asking about CAM use in children with ASD, especially those with complex symptoms.

Summary

Lead Author
James Perrin

Study Aims and Objectives
To determine associations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnostic category, co-existing conditions, and use of mediations with use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
This study included 3413 participants (2671 males, 502 females) between the ages of 2 and 18 years. Using data from the ATN-registry, which includes information on CAM use, medical conditions and psychotropic medication use, the researchers determined relationships between CAM use and factors such as diagnostic category (autism, pervasive developmental disorder, or Asperger’s) and other medical conditions.

Results – Main Finding(s)
Of the 3413 participants, 896 (28%) reported any use of CAM. Higher rates of CAM use were associated with digestive problems, seizures, and behavioral problems. Children from Non-Latino white families reported higher rates of CAM use compared to children from African American or Latino families. Furthermore, those from wealthier households had higher rates of CAM usage. Those with pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s, or who used medications had lower rates of using CAM. The most common forms of CAM used by subjects in this study include special diets, vitamin supplements, and probiotics.

Conclusion – Summary Statement
Children with ASD use more CAM when they have coexisting digestive problems, seizure disorders, and behavioral problems. This study suggests the importance of asking about CAM use in children with ASD, especially those with complex symptoms.

PubMed ID23118257