VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is becoming a popular treatment for a variety of conditions, with national data showing it is used by about 12 percent of children.
New research shows that about 21 percent of youths enrolled in a large registry of children on the autism spectrum use CAM as part of their overall treatment plan.
Results of the study, and three others conducted by the Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network (ATN), will be presented Sunday, May 2 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
An estimated one in 110 U.S. children has autism, a group of complex developmental brain disorders that affect behavior, social skills and communication.
In this study, researchers sought to determine how often children enrolled in the ATN used CAM treatments and identify factors associated with CAM use. The ATN, which includes 14 treatment and research centers in the United States and Canada, enrolls patients ages 2-18 years with a diagnosis of autism, Asperger's syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
Parents completed a medical history questionnaire that asked about their child's use of CAM treatments, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, sleep and demographics.
Results showed that 201 of 1,212 children (17 percent) were on special diets, most often a gluten-free, casein-free diet (53 percent). Special diets were most common among children diagnosed with autism (19 percent), followed by those diagnosed with PDD-NOS (14 percent) and Asperger's syndrome (7 percent).
In addition, children with GI problems were more likely than those without GI symptoms to use CAM treatments, including gluten-free, casein-free diets, diets free of processed sugars, digestive enzymes and probiotics.
"Physicians treating children with autism spectrum disorders should be aware of the CAM treatments that their patients may be receiving in order to help families monitor their child's response to treatment, as well as to assure the safety of these treatments in concert with the physician's prescribed treatments," said Daniel Coury, MD, medical director of the ATN and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at The Ohio State University.
About Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network
Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network (ATN) is the first network of hospitals and physicians dedicated to developing a model of comprehensive medical care for children and adolescents with autism. The ATN offers families care from doctors highly experienced in helping individuals with autism and providing treatment for associated conditions such as gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, while disseminating best practices to the greater medical community.
To see the abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_4086&terms
The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting - the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.