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Keywords:

  • cohort study;
  • complementary and alternative medicine;
  • longitudinal study;
  • pregnancy

Abstract:  Background:  The use of complementary and alternative medicine is increasingly prevalent in contemporary Western societies. The objective of this study was to explore trends and patterns in complementary and alternative medicine practitioner consultations and the use of complementary and alternative medicine consumption before, during, and after pregnancy and between pregnancies.

Methods:  Analysis focused on data from 13,961 women from the younger cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health collected between 1996 and 2006. Chi-square tests were employed for the cross-sectional analysis of categorical variables and t tests for continuous variables. Generalized estimating equations were used to conduct multivariate longitudinal analysis.

Results:  Complementary and alternative medicine use among pregnant and nonpregnant women continued to increase over the 10-year period. Although pregnancy status was not predictive of the use of alternative treatments, pregnant women employed these therapies or modalities for the relief of pregnancy-related complaints and symptoms. Analysis also revealed that women used complementary and alternative treatments selectively during pregnancy.

Conclusions:  This study highlights the need for further research that is sensitive to the consumption of specific complementary and alternative therapies or modalities and to the wider contexts within which women perceive risk associated with their use of complementary and alternative treatments. (BIRTH 38:3 September 2011)