Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 922–930 | Cite as

Pediatric Vaccination and Vaccine-Preventable Disease Acquisition: Associations with Care by Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers

  • Lois DowneyEmail author
  • Patrick T. Tyree
  • Colleen E. Huebner
  • William E. Lafferty


This study investigated provider-based complementary/alternative medicine use and its association with receipt of recommended vaccinations by children aged 1–2 years and with acquisition of vaccine-preventable disease by children aged 1–17 years. Results were based on logistic regression analysis of insurance claims for pediatric enrollees covered by two insurance companies in Washington State during 2000–2003. Primary exposures were use of chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture, or massage practitioner services by pediatric enrollees or members of their immediate families. Outcomes included receipt by children aged 1–2 years of four vaccine combinations (or their component vaccines) covering seven diseases, and acquisition of vaccine-preventable diseases by enrollees aged 1–17 years. Children were significantly less likely to receive each of the four recommended vaccinations if they saw a naturopathic physician. Children who saw chiropractors were significantly less likely to receive each of three of the recommended vaccinations. Children aged 1–17 years were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a vaccine-preventable disease if they received naturopathic care. Use of provider-based complementary/alternative medicine by other family members was not independently associated with early childhood vaccination status or disease acquisition. Pediatric use of complementary/alternative medicine in Washington State was significantly associated with reduced adherence to recommended pediatric vaccination schedules and with acquisition of vaccine-preventable disease. Interventions enlisting the participation of complementary/alternative medicine providers in immunization awareness and promotional activities could improve adherence rates and assist in efforts to improve public health.


Pediatric vaccination Complementary/alternative medicine Public health Vaccine-preventable diseases Chiropractic Naturopathy 



Yuki Durham, Research Consultant, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, provided assistance with literature review for this article. Financial support came from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Grant #5R01-AT000891). The Center approved the basic design of the study but had no role in management, analysis, or interpretation of data, nor did it assist in preparation, review, or approval of this manuscript. The authors are solely responsible for the article’s content, which does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lois Downey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrick T. Tyree
    • 2
  • Colleen E. Huebner
    • 2
  • William E. Lafferty
    • 3
  1. 1.Harborview Medical Center, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Services, School of Public HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Office of Health Services and Public Health Outcomes ResearchUniversity of Missouri – Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

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