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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2016 Jan;20(1):11-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 10.

Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by parents in their children and adolescents with epilepsy - Prevelance, predictors and parents' assessment.

Author information

University Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Centre for Paediatric Research, Liebigstr. 20a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
Dept. of Clinical Pharmacy, Institute of Pharmacy, Drug Safety Center, Leipzig University, Eilenburger Str. 15a, 04317 Leipzig, Germany.
University Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Centre for Paediatric Research, Liebigstr. 20a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. Electronic address:



The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is popular. Parents of children suffering from epilepsy may also consider administering CAM to their children. Systematic data about frequency of and motivations for CAM use, however, are scarce.


In a university hospital's neuropaediatric department parents of patients aged 0-18 years suffering from epilepsy were consecutively invited to take part in a structured interview during 4 months in 2014.


Of the invited parents, 164/165 (99%) agreed to participate. From those, 21/164 (13%) stated that they used CAM in their child. The highest independent predictive value of CAM use was the occurrence of adverse drug events (ADE) of anticonvulsants as judged by parents. Patients affected by ADE had a 5.6 higher chance of receiving CAM compared to patients without ADE. Most commonly used were homeopathy (14/21, 67%) and osteopathy (12/21, 57%). The internet was the most frequently used source of information (14/21, 67%). Of the parents, 10/21 (48%) described positive effects of CAM on seizure frequency, 12/21 (57%) on general condition of their child, and 20/21 (95%) wished to continue CAM for epilepsy therapy. From the non-users of CAM, 91/143 (66%) expressed the desire to learn more about CAM for epilepsy therapy.


Our study was performed in a university hospital in a large urban city in Eastern Germany. CAM user rates can differ in other parts of Germany and Europe, in other institutions and for chronic diseases other than epilepsy.


The main reason for CAM use was the occurrence of ADE of anticonvulsants. More than half of the parents saw a benefit of CAM for their children. Almost all parents wished to continue CAM use, even those who did not see concrete positive effects.


Children; Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); Epilepsy; Homeopathy; Osteopathy

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