A recent study from Universite de Montreal has revealed that nearly 13 percent of parents begin alternative therapies to treat their children's asthma.
The findings suggest that this trend is associated with a two-fold higher rate of poor asthma control in children.
"Previous studies have shown that close to 60 percent of parents believe that complementary and alternative medicines are helpful. Yet, well designed studies have failed to show any evidence that therapies such as acupuncture, homeophathy, chiropractic medicine or herbal therapy are effective in asthma," said senior author Francine M. Ducharme, a Universite de Montreal professor.
"Parents may not be aware of the risk associated with the use of alternative medicine, including adverse reactions, possible interactions with conventional asthma therapy, as well as delay in taking, and compliance with, effective asthma therapy. Our findings confirm that children using complimentary or alternative medicine, are twice as likely to have poor asthma control that those that don't," he added.
More than 2000 families, who came to the Asthma Centre at the Montreal Children's Hospital for an initial visit, completed questionnaires. Parents were asked if they used any form of alternative medicine to help alleviate their children's asthma and to specify which type.
The findings showed that over eight years, the use of alternative therapy remained stable around 13 percent. There was a relationship between alternative and complementary medicine use, and pre-school age, Asian ethnicity, episodic asthma, and poor asthma control.
The most commonly reported alternative therapies included supplemental vitamins, homeopathy and acupuncture.
"Most of the children receiving these therapies were younger than six. This is particularly troublesome, given that there is no evidence that these therapies are effective and preschool aged children suffer more asthma flare-ups requiring an emergency department visit than all other age groups," said Ducharme.
The study is published in the Canadian Respiratory Journal.