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CAM and Pediatrics Issues in Treating People who aren't "Little Adults"

Half of the HerbClips (HCs) in this bin relate to the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for children and adolescents, including the first in a series of HCs based on various articles about probiotics originally published in the January 2005 issue of Pediatrics. Additional HC topics in this vein are two surveys of adolescent herb use (020252; 020253), a historical perspective of pediatric herb use (020552), a clinical study involving the treatment of asthma in children (030651), and a cautionary note regarding the legal perspective of providing CAM to children and adolescents (040553).

Because children have immature organ systems, faster metabolic rates, and weaker immune systems compared to adults, they are more vulnerable to both their environmental surroundings and to anything they ingest. While incidences of children with cancer, diabetes, and other diseases seem to have increased in current generations, children's susceptibility to diseases has also been seen in previous generations as evidenced by the polio epidemic in the 1940s and 1950s.

Today's generation of children faces more pollution and a chemically-laden atmosphere as well as new varieties of chemicals in their food and drink. And unfortunately, some children are not only exposed to normal environmental toxins and less than nutritious food, but also to the added toxins of drug exposure and neglect. A recent article in the local paper where I live stated that our county (a small agricultural county in the fruit and nut growing area of Northern California) ranked third statewide in children who are being removed from residences being used as methamphetamine laboratories. The article proceeded to describe the horrific adverse conditions in which these children live. One can only guess at the compromised immune systems these children will develop.

Because of the many varieties of toxic exposure today's children encounter and the greater potential for ill health, the need for CAM research and experts in the area of pediatrics is ever-increasing. Safe and effective herb and botanical products geared toward this vulnerable segment of society should be developed and tested. Creating educational tools to introduce children and their parents to healthier lifestyles and alternative ways of dealing with illness would also be beneficial. When I was a child, I learned about how a bill became a law in the U.S. and the purpose of conjunctions through a Saturday morning television program called School House Rock. Mass media tools such as School House Rock that educate children and their caregivers about CAM and healthy lifestyles can help create more awareness and acceptance among the general populous.

Lori Glenn, Coordinator