Children that use alternative medicine, such as chiropractic or acupuncture treatments receive less vaccination that those who do not, according to a new research published in the journal Pediatrics.

In the study, only 33 percent of all children who were treated with alternative medicine, especially homeopathic care or acupuncture got the flu shot. 65 percent of children that visited massage or chiropractic salons were not vaccinated. This changed for children who did not receive non-Western medicine since 43 percent of them had been vaccinated.

it is important that pediatricians ask parents about their stance in alternative medicine since this can help find a strategic to discuss vaccination. Image Credit: Center for Health Journalism

Lead author, William Bleser of Pennsylvania State University in State College, stated there is a significant relation between antivaccine campaigners and alternative medicine practitioners, which can be seen in the research’s results.

“More and more patients are using complementary and alternative medicine and may be expecting their health professionals to guide them in making decisions about whether complementary and/or conventional approaches work better for disease treatment or prevention. Yet most complementary and alternative medicine users do not disclose to their physicians that they use (these services),” stated Bleser.

Different forms of alternative medicine

Researchers analyzed data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey to understand the link between alternative medicine and vaccination. The data concluded that about two-thirds of all children surveyed used a form of “alternative medicine,” which included acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, special diets or taking multivitamins.

When multivitamins were removed from the concept of complementary medicine, only seventeen percent of the youngsters used alternative options to traditional medicine. The research found out that the link between anti-vaccination stances and multivitamins is minuscule. Almost half of the children that took them were vaccinated, compared with thirty-nine percent of other children.

The shortcomings and the benefits of the study

However, the study lacks data on how often these alternative medicine providers are visited and does not have data more recent than four years. Finally, there is not enough information regarding children under four years old, which according to pediatricians is an especially vulnerable group regarding influenza complications.

Nonetheless, Linda Greene, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and researcher at the University of Rochester Highland Hospital in New York agrees with Blaser in the fact that doctors need to understand how parents connect vaccination with complementary medicine.

According to Greene, most of the parents believe that a person’s health is related to “healthy lifestyles” than Western medicine. Matthew Davis, a pediatrics researcher at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago also agrees, claiming that doctors should speak with the anti-vaccine parents in hope they can change their point of view, benefiting their kids in the long run.

Sources: Fox News