Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders at a Large Academic Center

J Pediatr. 2020 Aug 13;S0022-3476(20)31009-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.08.027.Online ahead of print.

Steven L Ciciora 1, Vedat O Yildiz 2, Wendy Y Jin 3, Becky Zhao 3, Miguel Saps 4


Author information

  • 1Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH. Electronic address: Steven.Ciciora@nationwidechildrens.org.
  • 2Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH; The Ohio State University College of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbus, OH.
  • 3Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH.
  • 4University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL.


Objective: To describe the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in pediatric functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPDs) at a large Midwestern pediatric gastroenterology (GI) center.

Study design: A survey of patients attending a follow-up visit for FAPDs was completed. Data were collected on demographics, quality of life, use of conventional therapies, patient's opinions and perception of provider's knowledge of CAM.

Results: From 100 respondents (mean age 13.3+/-3.5years), 47 (60% female) had irritable bowel syndrome, 29 (83% female) functional dyspepsia, 18 (67% female) functional abdominal pain, and 6 (83% female) abdominal migraine (Rome III criteria). Ninety-six percent reported using at least one CAM modality. Dietary changes were undertaken by 69%. Multivitamins and probiotics were the most common supplements used by 48% and 33% of respondents, respectively. One-quarter had seen a psychologist. Children with self-reported severe disease were more likely to use exercise (P < .05); those with active symptoms (p<0.01) or in a high-income group (p<0.05) were more likely to make dietary changes; and those without private insurance (p<0.05), or who felt poorly informed regarding CAM (p< 0.05), were more likely to use vitamins and supplements. Seventy-seven percent of patients described their quality of life as very good or excellent.

Conclusions: The use of CAM in children with FAPDs is common with a majority reporting a high quality of life. Our study underscores the importance of asking about CAM use and patient/family knowledge of these treatments.

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