Augmenting type 1 diabetes treatments with alternative therapies may be harmful

Parents are increasingly seeking alternative treatments for their children who have type 1 diabetes. However, a new study from Australian researchers shows that complementary medicines (CAMs) often do more harm than good.

The findings, which were published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, indicate that many parents of chronically ill children, including those with type 1 diabetes, seek natural or homeopathic remedies to augment the course of care prescribed by a physician.

However, after studying the results of Australian Paediatric Surveillance surveys from 2001 to 2003, researchers from Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne found that 46 adverse outcomes, including four deaths, occurred in patients using alternative treatments. Of these cases, 77 percent were directly attributable to the alternative medicine.

Furthermore, researchers found reports of allergic reactions, mouth ulcers, seizures, vomiting, stunted growth, infections and malnutrition.

"Many of the adverse events associated with failure to use convention medicine resulted from the family's belief in CAM and determination to use it despite medical advice," the researchers wrote in their report.
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