European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 162, Issue 12, pp 820–827

Patterns and perceptions of complementary/alternative medicine among paediatricians and patients' mothers: a review of the literature

  • Laura Cuzzolin
  • Silvana Zaffani
  • Vitalia Murgia
  • Michele Gangemi
  • Giorgio Meneghelli
  • Giampietro Chiamenti
  • Giuseppina Benoni


For many families and their children, the use of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) is an accepted adjunct or alternative to conventional therapy, even if data available in the literature regarding risks and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) pertaining to childhood populations are scarce. Moreover, despite widespread and increasing use of CAM, there are limited data on how paediatricians communicate with mothers and/or patients about CAM. Therefore, we report the studies available in the literature in the paediatric field and summarise what is known about ADRs and risks of CAM, taking into account in particular problems related to interactions between phytotherapy and conventional medicines and to counselling. Conclusion:from the analysis of the literature, some interesting aspects emerge: (1) the extent of CAM use in the paediatric field is increasingly sought by parents of children with chronic illnesses; (2) most parents who choose CAM medicine for their children believe that these therapies are "natural" and thus "safe" and (3) physicians often feel to know too little about CAM and wish to learn more for different reasons including "to dissuade whether the alternative method is unsafe and/or ineffective". Therefore, paediatricians should be prepared to discuss alternative therapies with parents, since talking about CAM may help to minimise the risks and to restrain parental misconceptions and doubts. Educational interventions for parents should also be performed to bring about a more aware use of traditional and alternative medicines.


Children Mothers Complementary/alternative medicine Communication Paediatricians Side-effects 



adverse drug reaction


complementary/alternative medicine


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Cuzzolin
    • 1
  • Silvana Zaffani
    • 1
  • Vitalia Murgia
    • 2
  • Michele Gangemi
    • 2
  • Giorgio Meneghelli
    • 2
  • Giampietro Chiamenti
    • 2
  • Giuseppina Benoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and Public Health, Section of PharmacologyUniversity of Verona, Policlinico G.B. Rossi Verona Italy
  2. 2.CESPER, Centre for Research Study and Education of Family PaediatriciansUniversity of VeronaVerona Italy

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