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Differences in Herbal and Dietary Supplement Use in the Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Pediatric Populations

Guenther, Elisabeth MD, MPH*; Mendoza, Jose MD; Crouch, Barbara Insley PharmD, MSPH; Moyer-Mileur, Laurie J. PhD§; Junkins, Edward P. Jr MD*

doi: 10.1097/01.pec.0000173343.22777.a5
Original Articles

Background: Complementary and alternative medical therapies are becoming increasingly popular in the general population.

Objective: To describe the cultural differences in the use of herbal and dietary supplements in the Hispanic and non-Hispanic-Caucasian outpatient pediatric populations.

Methods: Questionnaires were administered over a 2-month period to a convenience sample of adolescents and parents of patients younger than 12 years, presenting to an emergency department, an urban private pediatric practice, and a community-based clinic.

Results: There were 643 surveys completed. Ethnic distribution was 65% Caucasian, 27% Hispanic, 2% Pacific Islander, and 1% each Asian, African American and Native American. Mean respondent age was 30.8 years. Mean child age was 4.6 years; 51% were male. Use of nonprescribed dietary supplements was significantly greater in Hispanic (33%) versus Caucasian children (9%) (P < 0.01); most commonly used supplements were herbal teas (56%) and echinacea (14%). More Hispanic respondents reported receiving information on herbal preparations from a family member compared with non-Hispanic patients (56.0% vs. 18.7%). Complementary and alternative medicine use had not been discussed with a health care provider by 38% of the total users and 47% of those thought it not important to do so.

Conclusions: There is significant use of complementary and alternative medicine in the pediatric population, and herbal and dietary supplement use varies between Hispanic and Caucasian children. In addition, this dietary supplement use is often not discussed with health care providers. These factors should be taken into consideration by all health care providers.

*Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, †University of Utah School of Medicine, ‡Utah Poison Control Center, Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, University of Utah School of Medicine and §Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

This study was presented at the National American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Boston, MA, October 21, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Elisabeth Guenther, MD, MPH, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, PO Box 581289, Salt Lake City, UT 84158. E-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.