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Background: The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is on the rise globally. This study investigated the use of CAM among mothers for treating acute illnesses in their children. It provides information on the prevalence and types of CAM and reasons for their use.
Methods: This was a cross sectional study conducted with the use of interviewer administered questionnaires using multi-stage sampling technique to elicit information on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of CAM and the patterns of its use. All consenting mothers were used for the study.
Results: A total of 415 women were interviewed; their ages ranged from 18-42 years. Majority, 94.7% had heard of CAM but only 72.5% had ever used it. Of the CAM users, 63.2% used CAM only when the child was ill while 36.8% used it routinely. Sources of information about CAM was primarily from family members in 74.5% of cases with massage (62.8%) spiritual healing (41.9%) and biological products (33.2%) being the most common forms of CAM used. The symptoms which made the mothers use CAM on their children was the presence of fever (80.7%), vomiting (47.8%) and diarrhoea (37.9%). Majority (66%) of the mothers believed that CAM works and 71.8% were likely to recommend it to their friends and family. The reasons given for the use of CAM included the fact that they felt that it was more effective and cheaper than western medicine in 38.2% and 33.9% of cases respectively. The use of CAM in children by caregivers was significantly associated with age (p=0.000), religious beliefs (p=0.007), marital status (p=0.001) and socioeconomic status (p=0.000).
Conclusion: The use of CAM in children is high in Yenagoa. There is a need for appropriate public policy formulation and regulation to ensure safety of use of CAM products in children.
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