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J Pediatr Surg. 2004 Mar;39(3):500-3.

Herbal medication use in the pediatric surgical patient.

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Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.



The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of herbal medication use in the pediatric surgical patient population, because herbal medications can cause major perioperative complications.


A questionnaire on all drug use before surgery was given to the parents of 1,100 consecutive pediatric surgical patients operated on at a metropolitan children's hospital between June 14, 2002 and August 14, 2002.


Eighty-three percent of the surveys were returned. Twenty-one percent of the parents were herbal medication users, but only 4% of patients utilized herbal medications. An average of 2.4 different herbal medicines were in use by each child, and the most common herbal medications were echinacea, chamomile, and aloe. Forty-two percent of herbal medication-using patients were taking prescription medicines concurrently. Fifteen herbal medications-using patients underwent major surgery, and the average preoperative herbal cessation interval was 3.5 days. Children of parents who were herbal medication users and children reported to have chronic diseases were more likely to use herbal medicines (P <.05). Ten percent of parents reported that the surgeon inquired about patient herbal medication use.


This is the first report on herbal medication use in the pediatric surgical patient. The prevalence of herbal medication use is significantly higher in children of parents who use herbal medications and children whose parents consider them to be chronically ill. Surgeons need to specifically inquire about the use of herbal medication in their patients to prevent possible harmful interactions and perioperative complications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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