Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Lower Vaccination Rates Put Children At Risk

Lower Vaccination Rates Put Children At Risk

A study done in part by the University of Alberta shows that children
treated with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have lower
vaccination rates than the general population, exposing them to added
risk from preventable illnesses such as mumps and measles.

A review of 482 pediatric charts at a teaching clinic in a naturopathic
college showed that 35 per cent of the children presenting to the clinic
for ailments such as skin disorders, stomach problems or psychiatric
concerns, were already using CAM therapies (including vitamins, herbal
remedies, probiotics and homeopathic remedies). As well, 8.9 per cent of
the children were not vaccinated for diseases like measles, mumps and
rubella. This was associated with younger age, greater use of CAM
products and with parents unsure about the safety of vaccines.

Results of the study, which was conducted with the University of
Toronto, McMaster University and the Canadian College of Naturopathic
Medicine, are published in the March, 2005 issue of Pediatrics.

"Parents must be encouraged to tell their physician about any
alternative treatment, and health-care providers need to ask about CAM
use in taking the medical history of a child," said Dr. Sunita Vohra,
professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, and one of the
study's co-authors.

Physicians may not realize what a growing phenomenon CAM has become over
the past few years. Nor do parents necessarily understand the importance
of sharing information about their child's alternative therapy, said Dr.
Vohra, who is also director of the CARE program (Complementary and
Alternative Research and Education) at the Stollery Children's Hospital.

"There is an assumption that 'natural equals safe', and if it's safe,
why should I tell the doctor about it," Dr. Vohra said. "But anything
that can have an effect, can have a side effect. Parents need to treat
CAM products and therapies with appropriate caution."

It is especially important, Dr. Vohra said, that physicians ask parents
about concerns they may have with vaccinations for children, in order to
deal with misconceptions. The study showed that 27 per cent of parents
whose children had been vaccinated blamed that for adverse events with
their children. In one case, a parent blamed the measles vaccination for
autism that was later diagnosed in a child.