The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released revised recommendations regarding pediatric integrative medicine to help clinicians address pediatric integrative medicine strategies with patients. The recommendations, published in Pediatrics, are an update to the original 2008 statement on complementary medicine.

The AAP notes that 1 in every 10 children has used some form of complementary therapy in the past year, and use of complementary therapies is more than 50% among children who have a chronic illness. The updated guidelines are intended to outline common types of complementary therapies; review medicolegal, ethical, and research implications; review education for select providers of complementary therapies; and provide educational resources.

“Because most families use complementary and integrative health services without spontaneously reporting this use to their primary care provider, pediatricians can best provide appropriate advice and counseling if they regularly inquire about all the therapies the family is using to help the child,” the AAP wrote.

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The AAP has also developed the following “ARMED” practical tips to help clinicians address complementary approaches with parents:

  • Ask about the complementary therapies used by patients
  • Respect the family’s perspectives, values, and cultural beliefs throughout the discussion
  • Monitor the patient’s response to treatment and establish measurable outcomes for evaluation
  • Educate the patient by identifying credible resources on complementary therapies
  • Distribute evidence-based information about relevant therapies available from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health member institutions, and publications from peer-reviewed journals.

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The AAP provided an overview of a number of common complementary therapies, including biologically based practices, dietary supplements commonly used in children, herbal products, mind-body therapies, movement or body-based practices, acupuncture, and biofield therapies.

“Pediatricians should seek continued and updated knowledge about therapeutic options available to their patients (whether they are mainstream or complementary) and about the specific services used by individual patients to promote discussion about the safety, appropriateness, and advisability of complementary therapies,” the authors of the guideline concluded. “Only then can pediatricians appreciate the concerns of their patients and families and offer them the thoughtful and knowledgeable guidance they may require.”


McClafferty H, Vohra S, Bailey M, et al. Pediatric integrative medicine. Pediatrics. 2017;140(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-1961