Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prevalence and correlates of use of complementary and alternative medicine in children with autism spectrum disorder in Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Erica Salomone
  • Tony Charman
  • Helen McConachie
  • Petra Warreyn
  • Working Group 4, COST Action ‘Enhancing the Scientific Study of Early Autism’
  • Susan Fletcher-Watson

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-85
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Volume174
Issue number10
Early online date9 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Abstract

UNLABELLED: This study examined the prevalence and correlates of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among a sample of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) < 7 years in 18 European countries (N = 1,680). Forty-seven percent of parents reported having tried any CAM approach in the past 6 months. Diets and supplements were used by 25 % of the sample and mind-body practices by 24 %; other unconventional approaches were used by 25 % of the families, and a minority of parents reported having tried any invasive or potentially harmful approach (2 %). Parents in Eastern Europe reported significantly higher rates of CAM use. In the total sample, children with lower verbal ability and children using prescribed medications were more likely to be receiving diets or supplements. Concurrent use of high levels of conventional psychosocial intervention was significantly associated with use of mind-body practices. Higher parental educational level also increased the likelihood of both use of diets and supplements and use of mind-body practices.

CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of CAM use among a sample of young children with ASD is an indication that parents need to be supported in the choice of treatments early on in the assessment process, particularly in some parts of Europe.

WHAT IS KNOWN: • Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in children with autism spectrum disorder is common. • In non-EU samples, parents with higher educational level and parents of low functioning children are more likely to use CAM with their children. What is New: • This study provides the first data on prevalence and correlates of use of CAM approaches in a large sample of young children with autism in Europe (N = 1,680). • Rates of CAM use were particularly high in Eastern Europe and correlates of use varied by type of CAM across Europe.

ID: 21708789