Herbs and Helpers ®

Herbal Services and Solutions | Herbalist | Supplier | Herbs

   Oct 07

Warning given over children using complementary therapies

Doctors at St Bartholomew’s Hospital have warned of the dangers of giving children complementary therapies after a four-year-old boy ended up in A&E.

The boy had been taking 12 different holistic supplements from a naturopath (natural health practitioner) supposedly to help treat his autism.

The supplements included vitamin D, camel’s milk, silver and Epsom bath salts.

He developed a potentially fatal condition but made a full recovery.

Dr Catriona Boyd and Dr Abdul Moodambail, writing in the British Medical Journal Case Reports, said it was not until the boy had been in the London hospital for several days that his mother told them about the holistic supplements, which he had been taking for a number of months.

They said the parents were “devastated that something they had given to their son with good intent had made him so unwell”.

“The situation was stark because the child developed vitamin D toxicity leading to very high calcium levels, making the child quite unwell and this can even be fatal as well,” Dr Moodambail told the BBC.

The boy had been suffering from symptoms for three weeks including vomiting, weight loss and excessive thirst. He had lost 6.6lbs (3kg) in weight in three weeks and was very dehydrated.

He was treated with hyperhydration and medications to reduce his calcium level and made a full recovery in two weeks.

‘False hope’

Dr Moodambail said the parents only finally mentioned the alternative treatments, after initially thinking they were not the reason for the symptoms.

“This happens on many occasions with other patients as well,” he said.

“Often the parents think that these supplements are natural, safe and do not cause any side effects or adverse effects, but this is not true in many cases like this.”

He said they often saw parents turning to alternative remedies to treat children with long-term conditions.

“This is a common situation because there is no definite curative treatment in some of these long-term conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“When some complementary and alternative therapies are suggesting they can cure these situations, these parents get a hope – which is probably a false hope.”

The report’s authors are recommending that it becomes routine practice to gather information about any complementary treatments being used as part of the history-taking process for all patients.

Lack of regulation

They said although “families may report benefits with these treatments” there was a problem with the lack of regulation of their use.

In 2010 an Australian report warned alternative remedies can be dangerous for children and even prove fatal if taken instead of conventional drugs.

Jane Harris, director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, said the case showed how “desperately difficult life can get for families affected by autism especially just before and after receiving diagnoses”.

She added: “Most of us know very little about autism until it affects someone we love and it can be hard for individuals and their families to find good, reliable information about autism.

“This leaves many families feeling vulnerable and in desperation – some may consider using unproven and potentially harmful alternative therapies.

“This awful case shows we need more professionals in place to give families accurate advice and talk to them about what really helps and how to find the right support.

“It’s crucial that doctors and healthcare professionals take the concerns of families seriously and are able to talk through the potential risks of alternative therapies, even when they might seem harmless.”

Source: BBC

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.