Orac at Respectful Insolence has posted a summary of a recent paper examining the relationship between usage of CAM (specifically defined as being treated by chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and massage therapists) treatments and vaccine rates. The study looked at children enrolled in two non-Medicaid insurance programs in Washington state, a notoriously woo-friendly place that requires insurance to cover CAM providers. The key findings were stark:
1. ” children using CAM who saw a chiropractor were between 25% and over 40% less likely to have had the four major vaccines studied, against the MMR, chickenpox, diptheria/tetanus, or H. influenzae type B. It was even worse for children who had been under the care of naturopaths. These children were over 75% less likely to have been vaccinated.”
2. Children who had been cared for by a naturopath had significantly higher incidence of vaccine preventable disease. So did children who had a family member who used CAM therapy.
As Orac points out, it is not possible from these data to determine if the association is due to parents who are suspicious of vaccines seeking our CAM providers rather than science-based medical doctors or if the CAM providers influenced the parents’ decision whether or not to vaccinate. Likely, both factors play a role. And while the study did not find a positive association for use of acupuncture, and did not examine homeopathy, herbal remedies, TCM, or many other CAM modalities, it does support the general contention CAM use is associated with less use of science-based medical care and potentially greater health risk. This should add further weight to the contention that even ostensibly harmless AM methods may contain “hidden harm” in the form of a general belief system or world view that is inconsistent with science and that leads to underutilization of the beneficial medical therapies science offers.