JOURNAL ARTICLE

Use of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy and the postpartum period: an analysis of the National Health Interview Survey

Gurjeet S Birdee, Kathi J Kemper, Russell Rothman, Paula Gardiner
Journal of Women's Health 2014, 23 (10): 824-9
25268759

INTRODUCTION: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used among women, but few national data exist regarding CAM use during pregnancy or the postnatal period.

METHODS: Data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed for women ages between the ages of 18 and 49 years who were pregnant or had children less than 1 year old. CAM use was identified based on standard definitions of CAM from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. CAM use among women who were pregnant or with a child less than 1 year was compared with the other similarly aged female responders. CAM use was examined among these women stratified by sociodemographics, health conditions, and conventional medicine use through bivariable and multivariable logistic regression models.

RESULTS: Among pregnant and postpartum women from the ages of 19 to 49 years in the United States, 37% of pregnant women and 28% of postpartum women reported using CAM in the last 12 months compared with 40% of nonpregnant/non-postpartum women. Mind-body practices were the most common CAM modality reported, with one out of four women reporting use. Biological therapies, excluding vitamins and minerals, during the postpartum period were used by only 8% of women. Using multivariable regression modeling, we report no significant difference in CAM use among pregnant compared with non-pregnant women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.88; [95% confidence interval 0.65-1.20]), but lower CAM use among postpartum women compared with non-pregnant women (AOR 0.67; [0.52-0.88]), while adjusting for sociodemographics.

CONCLUSION: CAM use among pregnancy similar to women who are not pregnant, while postpartum CAM use decreases. Further evaluation of CAM therapies among pregnant and postpartum women is necessary to determine the costs and benefits of integrative CAM therapies in conventional care.

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