Get access

Use of complementary and alternative therapies and probiotic agents by children attending gastroenterology outpatient clinics


  • AS Day

    1. Department of Gastroenterology, Sydney Children's Hospital and School of Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

 Dr AS Day, Department of Gastroenterology, Sydney Children's Hospital, High Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Fax: +61 2 9382 1787; email:


Objectives:  Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and probiotic therapies appear to be increasingly accepted and used. This questionnaire-based study aimed to ascertain the frequency of use and the acceptance of these therapies by children attending outpatient gastroenterology clinics.

Methods:  Parents accompanying children to their appointments were asked to complete a questionnaire in order to determine usage of probiotic and alternative therapies. Questions also ascertained relevant background information and parental acceptance of alternative therapies.

Results:  Ninety-two questionnaires were completed. The ages of the children varied from 6 months to 16 years (mean ± SD; 6.5 ± 4.3 years) and they had been prescribed an average of 1.7 ± 1.3 (range 0−6) conventional medications. Thirty-three children (35.9%) were taking CAM and 98.6% of parents answered that they would be prepared to administer CAM to their child. Symptomatic improvements were attributed to CAM by the parents of 24 out of 33 children given these therapies. In addition, probiotic therapies were utilized by 23.8% of children, and 93.0% of parents would administer probiotic agents if recommended for their child's condition.

Conclusion:  Complementary and alternative medicines and probiotic therapies are used frequently by children attending gastroenterology clinics and are accepted widely by their parents.