Children who receive alternative medicine therapies less likely to get flu shots

Parents who seek complementary and alternative medical therapies like acupuncture or massage therapy for their children are less likely to vaccinate their kids against influenza, according to a new study published the journal Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on nearly 9,000 children collected from the Child Complementary and Alternative Medicine File of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Just one-third of children aged 4 to 17 years who received alternative or complementary medical treatments — such as acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, chiropractic manipulation and craniosacral therapy — were vaccinated against influenza, compared to 43 percent of other children included in the sample.

Authors noted that the study did not establish a cause and effect relationship between CAM therapies and the underutilization of the influenza vaccine.

"There is nothing inherently wrong with using CAM," William Bleser, a research assistant at Pennsylvania State University in College Station who worked on the study, told HealthDay.

He added that, based on other research, most people who use alternative therapies do it in combination with conventional medicine.

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